Love wins in WA

Article | Updated 3 months ago

Image of crowd waving LBTQI flags and YES on a large screen in the background

Image copyright WA Museum 

The New Museum for WA will reflect our State’s past, present and future.  Moments in our history will be shared through the new exhibitions using first-person stories, important objects, and incredible new displays.

The recent marriage equality survey result is an example of history being made as we are developing content for the exhibitions.

Staff working on the Voices gallery were amongst the crowd at Northbridge Piazza when the survey result was announced on 15 November 2017.  They met with organisers of the equality campaign and local community members to document the historic moment and hear people’s thoughts.

Brock from Caversham was at the event and told us it was important for him to attend with friends and the community.

As a gay man it was an important time in history to be part of the community, to come together and experience the public acknowledgement of our equality.

When we were at the Northbridge Piazza there was a familiar feeling of the LGBTQI community coming together and supporting each other, but I felt the broader community was there to support us too. Western Australia is very diverse, as is the LGBTQI community, and it was really great to look around and be a part of it, especially with my friends and their children. For me, being there with them, I appreciated this wasn’t just a moment for LGBQTI, but for all of us, and our families.

As people arrived at Northbridge they were encouraged to sign a banner supporting marriage equality.

Signatures and messages of support such as ‘love is love’ reflected the yes campaign and the journey for many people.  After months of campaigning by both the yes and no campaigns, Australia returned a result of 61.6% in favour of same-sex marriage.

Brock noticed after the result was announced that the statements on the banner expressed the happiness and relief of the crowd.

People sign a giant marriage equality banner

Image copyright WA Museum
close of up signatures on the marriage equality banner

Image copyright WA Museum

When the vote was announced there was a sense of excitement, relief and passionate expressions of joy – people had been deeply affected by this process.  Some have waited for this moment for a long time, including couples who have been together for years. Overall there was an overwhelming feeling of love, excitement and a palpable sense of feeling a part of the broader community – that we will have the same rights under the law, and enjoy the social standing and legal conveniences attached to marriage, that other couples often take for granted.

Western Australia had a significant role in the outcome. Every electorate in WA returned a yes verdict and our State also returned the third highest yes vote of any State or Territory in Australia. 

After the event my friends and I talked about the result in WA. Our State typically reflects traditional values in wide public opinion, so to see WA return the third highest positive vote was really encouraging.

I’m happy to live in a State where the vast majority of people feel the same way as me or feel like I should have equality.

While the overall result was positive Brock said the process and the cost were questionable.

I have mixed feelings about the survey process, like most people I know.  It was distressing and worrying that we were possibly relying on a popular vote for our rights, but at the same time, it was also validating to learn that the majority of Australians voted yes. Things have changed so much over the past 20 years but our Government has dragged its feet on equality and then put us through a costly and unnecessary process. The silver lining is the affirmation we’ve received from the overwhelming majority across the country, and the ability to look to the future.

WA’s role in marriage equality continued with Senator Dean Smith introducing a bill to change the Marriage Act through the Senate in November. It passed convincingly with 43 votes to 12, and the moment was met with a standing ovation in the packed public and parliamentary galleries.

The banner from the event in the Northbridge Piazza is being gifted to the Museum and the story of equality and WA’s role in supporting same-sex marriage is being documented by the Museum.