This article first appeared in The Guardian.
Over the past month, almost 11 million Australians have responded to the postal survey, mailing in their forms on whether same-sex couples should be able to marry.
If the will of the Australian people is reflected in the results, then our nation will be expecting politicians to listen, to act decisively and to get marriage equality done so we can unite around a reform that will bring our country together in a celebration of fairness and equality.
We may not know the results yet, but we have seen people across the country taking the opportunity to vote yes for a fairer society for all.
This is not a process that started when the government announced the postal survey. It is one that has been going on for well over a decade. During this time support for marriage equality has grown to the point where it is far more popular than any political party.
But the journey to marriage equality will not end with the announcement of survey results on 15 November. If yes is successful, legislation will still need to be passed by the parliament.
The country and the world will be watching our parliament closely. The postal survey result will hopefully put an end to politicians in Canberra playing games with the lives and dignity of same-sex couples across Australia. The result would provide MPs and senators with the opportunity to pass a reform that will bring great happiness and take from no one.
After being sent the bill for the government’s $120m survey, voters should not stomach any attempts by fringe elements to muddy the waters, or delay reform with amendments that bring more, not less, discrimination.
With millions of votes being posted, we will expect urgent action and a fair bill.
Australians are voting to give citizens the freedom to marry the person they love. We are not voting to increase discrimination or wind back long-standing legal protections.
Fortunately the legislative pathway is there. Prior to the postal survey commencing, a group of Liberal MPs and senators released a bill that allows same-sex couples to marry while protecting the religious celebration of marriage for people of faith.
Currently, religious ministers aren’t compelled to marry anyone they don’t want to. This, along with other protections, won’t change with marriage equality.
The bill followed a robust multi-party Senate inquiry tasked with developing legislation. The findings from this inquiry, headed by Senator David Fawcett, have shaped the bill’s protections for religious freedoms. In a debate too often mired in seemingly intractable positions and wedge politics, this bill is a game changer. It would deliver equality for same-sex couples and it also ensures that faith communities can continue to celebrate religious marriage.
The bill is so robust it was welcomed by faith leaders, LGBTI organisations, the Labor party, crossbenchers, and key figures in the Coalition including federal Liberal party president Nick Greiner. This represents an incredible consensus, something rare in today’s political world.
After 15 November, there should be no more excuse for delay.
We’ve got the bill, we’re having the postal survey – let’s get this done by the end of the year so we can all get on with our lives and celebrate living in a country where everyone is given a fair go.
Alex Greenwich and Anna Brown are the co-chairs of the yes campaign.