Australia made quasi-history today by spending a little over $100 million on a non-binding postal survey to determine what several free polls had already determined, that Australians want it to be legal for consenting adults to marry, irrespective of their respective genders and sexual orientations.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m inordinately pleased to see that the voting public is inarguably in favour of marriage equality (I don’t use the expression same-sex marriage, which excludes people including trans and non-binary folks).
But the debate has…well, I’m being positive, so let’s say that it has not always been as constructive as it could be, and also has been poisonously bigoted in some (overwhelmingly Vote-No-aligned) quarters. It’s been a long six weeks that followed a long couple of decades since Howard changed the Marriage Act in 2004, and it’s hurt a lot of people for no reason. But it’s a bright moment on a long, bad road, so let’s take a breath and enjoy it.
Today’s a good first step, showing that social progress is possible and widely desired. It’s an enormous relief to have the verdict of the people on the record in indisputable detail (not that the conservative Right won’t argue the toss until they are blue in the face).
If what comes next is simple, unambiguous legislation that doesn’t deliver fresh ammunition to bigots and homophobes, and is passed quickly into law, then today will retrospectively be a great day in our legal and social history.
For now, I’m happy to take it as a good day.