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Here are the best moments from Australia’s same-sex marriage debate

Here are the best moments from Australia’s same-sex marriage debate

Australian marriage equality supporters holding 'yes' signs at a rally

Australia’s been grappling with the same-sex marriage debate for more than 13 years.

It started when Prime Minister John Howard amended the Marriage Act to specifically exclude same-sex couples in 2004.

But this year, the government forced the nation into a non-binding voluntary postal vote on same-sex marriage.

Australians posting their Yes vote
Australians posting their Yes votes (Images: Instagram)

It was a move heavily criticized by LGBTI Australians as it was predicted to cause mental health concerns. It’s the reason why the opposition Labor government campaigned against the plebiscite, as well as the Greens.

And our fears came true.

LGBTI youth workers cited a direct link between a spike in calls to their service and the harmful public debate. A recent survey also showed LGBTI Australians subjected to a doubling of assaults because of the survey.

But LGBTI Australians and allies persisted and the vote was a result of 61.6% in favor of changing the Marriage Act.

Australians vote in favor of same-sex marriage
Australians celebrate as the country votes in favor of same-sex marriage (Image: Twitter)

The government moved swiftly and debated several proposed bills. And then after a week long debate in parliament, the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 was passed on 7 December.

Conservative Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is taking credit for the achievement but many Australians resent the way it came about.

But it’s now the law of the land!

Here are the best moments from what feels like a lifetime of exhaustive campaigning. This just goes to show the resilience and strength of the LGBTI community.

1. Australians say ‘I do’

The best moment from the debate was the announcement that Australians voted overwhelmingly in favor of same-sex marriage.

What happened next melted our hearts. After the postal vote results came out (15 November), same-sex couples got engaged all over the place.

In fact, we profiled 10 who got engaged that day.

We can’t wait to see all of their beautiful weddings starting from 9 January next year!

2. Oh, won’t somebody please think of the crocodiles!

This interview of conservative politician Bob Katter went viral… for all the wrong reasons. It comes about three days after the result of the postal vote were announced.

Through smiles and laughter, Katter says ‘people are entitled to their sexual proclivities.’

He continues: ‘Let there be a thousand blossoms bloom, as far as I’m concerned.’

But then his tone changes dramatically as he delivers his next scathing line… about crocodiles, no less.

Watch the odd interview:

3. Same Love

Who ever thought Macklemore’s 2013 song Same Love would cause such a fuss in Australia, four years after it was released?

During the National Rugby League grand final, Macklemore sang the hit song, right in the midst of the postal vote.

This did not go down well with conservative politicians like Tony Abbott and Pauline Hanson, who both condemned the performance. They argued politics should be left out of sport.

But when the first piano note dropped and the rainbow smoke filled the stadium, it was so gloriously beautiful.

4. Say cheese! It’s a flash mob

This super impressive flash mob was just what the nation needed in the middle of the public vote.

Tim Little came up with the idea to host a flash mob in one of the city’s busiest locations, Federation Square.

About 40 dancers and 10 support crew performed complex choreography to a medley of hit pop songs.

Little told Gay Star News: ‘For many volunteers I have spoken to, this performance was much more than just a dance.

‘It was a feeling of belonging and being part of something that made them proud.

‘Many of which had told me of hard times – some relating to marriage equality – but being part of this project really livened their spirit and gave them a sense of purpose and of belonging,’ he said.

Melbourne Flash Mob for marriage equality from Jackson Raine on Vimeo.

5. Straight Lives Matter

As No campaigners felt victory slowly slipping away, they decided to hold a Straight Lives Matter protest in the heart of Sydney’s gayest part of town.

But hardly anyone showed up.

Straight Lives Matter protest in Sydney, Australia
A Straight Lives Matter protest in Australia, but hardly anyone came (Image: Twitter)

At generous estimates, a total of 30 people showed up to protest the ‘sick and vile homosexual agenda’

But clearly not many people agree with them. This is in the best moments of the debate because it shows how outdated these homophobic people are.

There were also almost more counter-protestors there than people for the Straight Lives Matter rally.

6. Celebrities say Yes to equality

One of the most beautiful things to come out of this debate was the amount of celebrities who threw their support behind the Yes campaign.

We made a list of 50 local and international celebrities who believe in equality.

Celebrities come out in support of same-sex marriage in Australia
Celebrities come out in support of same-sex marriage in Australia (Images: Twitter)

Among the list is Nicole Kidman, Elton John, Hugh Jackman, Kylie Minogue, Troye Sivan, Miley Cyrus, Margot Robbie and Ellen Degeneres.

Look at the full list here.

7. ‘Will you marry me?’

In one of the most monumental proposals of the debate, Australian MP Tim Wilson popped the question to his boyfriend while in a session of parliament.

Just a few days before same-sex marriage officially became legal in the country, Wilson said in a speech: ‘In my first speech I defined our bond by the ring that sits on both of our left hands.

‘And that they are the answer to the question we cannot ask. So there’s only one thing left to do.

‘Ryan Patrick Bolger, will you marry me?’

Watch the cute exchange:

8. ‘Eat shit, Lyle!’

One remarkable thing happened straight after marriage equality officially became law.

Lyle Shelton was (and still is) the most vocal campaigner against same-sex marriage in Australia.

When the law was announced, instead of tweeting his concession to the issue, he bitterly wrote: ‘Sad to hear the cheers & claps from the gallery acknowledging that they support the erosion of religious liberty & freedom of speech.’

And people weren’t having any more of his negative attitude.

So before you know it, they started telling him to eat shit. The hashtag #EatShitLyle was trending in Australia, then eventually worldwide.

People who didn’t even know Shelton were tweeting him to eat shit… and it was glorious.