During trying times such as these, it can be hard to remember that there's still good in the world. But there is, and sometimes it shows itself, not in private moments, but in monumental, public movements, like Australia's decision to support legalizing same-sex marriage. Sure, life can be ugly, but it can also be damn beautiful. Which is why these photos of Australia's marriage equality vote are exactly what you need right now.
After a long and reportedly contentious debate about marriage equality, Australia opened up the question to an eight-week-long non-binding postal survey, the results of which were announced today, Nov. 14. (Nov. 15 for Australia, which is in the future!)
More than 12.7 million people took part. That's almost 80 percent of eligible voters, despite the fact that voting in this referendum was not compulsory like in Australian elections. (For comparison, voter turnout in the 2016 U.S. presidential election hovered at a cool 61.4 percent, or 137.5 million people, according to Pew Research Center.)
And in the non-binding vote on marriage equality, which according to many was effectively a referendum on LGBTQ rights, 61.6 percent of Australians said they support same-sex marriage, per the BBC. It's an overwhelming vote in favor of marriage equality. (And, according to Buzzfeed, all states recorded majority "yes" votes.)
This clears the path to legalization, though, again, nothing is set in stone — because it's a non-binding vote, now it's ultimately up to the Australian Parliament to change the law. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said of the result, "[Australians] have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality [...] They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love. And now it is up to us here in the parliament of Australia to get on with it."
The lead-up to the vote played out much like the long-winded, often bitter American debate surrounding marriage equality prior to its legalization. According to the BBC, the "yes" campaign argued that the vote was a referendum on equality, while the "no" campaign "put the focus on the definition of family, raising concerns about how issues like gender will be taught in schools."
In the United States, there was a similar debate over California's Proposition 8, which in 2008 opened the question of marriage equality to a statewide vote. Voters in California, however, ultimately chose to ban same-sex marriage, a move which a federal judge later ruled unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in 2015, legalizing it nationwide.
Turnbull says his government will seek to pass legislation legalizing marriage equality by the end of the year. But people are already celebrating. And the photos and tweets are enough to give you life.
People recorded the crowd reaction as the results were read.
In Melbourne, many gathered at the Official Melbourne Postal Survey Result Announcement at the State Library of Victoria to hear the results. They weren't disappointed.
People in Sydney popped champagne. Absolutely a moment to toast. To equality!
Joy. Absolute joy.
And many are using Twitter to let their joy be known.
I mean, not everyone can be physically there to hear the results — but it doesn't mean they're any less excited.
Others still are sharing their stories about the slow, incremental, often painful change that has led to this exact moment.
Sure, the ultimate fate of any legislative change has to be decided by Parliament, but this is still monumental. According to a 2017 Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, Australian attitudes toward marriage and family have slowly become more progressive since 2005. According to that same survey, this result likely wouldn't have been possible even 10 years ago.
And just look at this:
National treasure Courtney Act tweeted her excitement after the results.
I *almost* read that as "condragulations."
In the coming weeks, Parliament will start to figure out what marriage equality in Australia will look like. It's sure to be a slog towards major change — but the first step has been taken.
So for now, joy and happiness. Congratulations, Australia!