Australians vote overwhelmingly to legalise same-sex marriage

 Supporters of same-sex marriage in Melbourne  
celebrate the Yes result. David Crosling/AAP

Australia should have same-sex marriage legalised by Christmas after an overwhelming 61.6% “yes” vote in the voluntary postal ballot, to 38.4% for the “no” side.

After the decisive result, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared it was now up to parliament to “get this done”, as the result triggered celebrations across the nation by the supporters of change.

Turnbull said the people “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,” reiterating a pre-Christmas deadline.

The outcome is a victory and a relief for the embattled Turnbull, although it was determined backbenchers who forced the action.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten told a crowd in Melbourne: “Today we celebrate, tomorrow we legislate”.

Nearly 80% of voters returned the voluntary ballot, well above comparable voluntary votes in other countries.

The ballot was strongly carried in all states and territories, and won in all but 17 of the 150 electorates.

The ACT had the highest “yes” vote (74%) and New South Wales the lowest (57.8%). Participation was highest in the ACT (82.4%) and lowest in the Northern Territory (58.4%)

The “no” vote was victorious in western Sydney, reflecting the significant ethnic composition of that area. NSW electorates voting “no” were Blaxland, Watson, McMahon, Werriwa, Fowler, Parramatta, Chifley, Barton, Banks, Greenway, Mitchell, and Bennelong.

The “no” electorates in Victoria were Calwell and Bruce. In Queensland, Maranoa, Kennedy and Groom recorded “no” results. All electorates in Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, and the territories voted “yes”.

Warringah, held by Tony Abbott, a leader of the “no” campaign, voted 75% “yes”, just several points short of Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth, which recorded an 80.8% “yes” vote.

The defeat will see “no” campaigners concentrating their efforts into trying to get maximum protections and exemptions in the private member’s bill that will be passed, although the size of the win will weaken the hand of the hardline conservatives.

The issue has produced deep schisms in Liberal ranks, including some fracturing within the conservatives themselves between those who just want the matter cleared away and others who would like to delay it further. But Turnbull is making it clear that there will be no delay.

The bill proposed by Western Australian senator Dean Smith, introduced to the Senate on Wednesday, will be debated there on Thursday. It provides broad religious protections.

This bill has now been co-sponsored by a cross section of senators. Apart from Smith they are Liberals Linda Reynolds and Jane Hume, Labor’s Penny Wong and Louise Pratt, the Greens’ Richard Di Natale and Janet Rice, the Nick Xenophon Team’s Skye Kakoschke-Moore, and Derryn Hinch from the Justice Party.

A competing bill from Victorian senator James Paterson would impose tougher exemptions. It would allow businesses such as florists and cake makers to refuse services for same-sex weddings, citing “religious or conscientious belief”.

Earlier this week, Turnbull, who arrived back in Australia from his Asian summit trip earlier Wednesday, rejected the tougher bill. He said he did not believe Australians would welcome legalising discrimination that was illegal today.

After the result, he again commended the Smith bill, while emphasising there would be a free vote and anticipating some amendments would be moved. He said he had not studied the Paterson bill in detail – he had only been given notice of it while overseas.

Acting Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann said he thought the Paterson bill went too far – he would like to see the parliament meet somewhere between the two bills.

Nationals George Christensen said that given his electorate of Dawson voted “yes”, he would not vote “no”. He would support the Paterson bill or one with similar protections, but abstain if the ultimate legislation fell short of that.

The five Liberals who forced the issue back onto the agenda – Warren Entsch, Trevor Evans, Smith, Tim Wilson and Trent Zimmerman – said in a statement the “emphatic ‘vote’ by Australians for equality and fairness in our laws should be immediately respected by the Australian Parliament”.

Abbott said: “I congratulate the “yes” campaign on their achievement. The people have spoken and, of course, the parliament should respect the result.“

“I look forward to a parliamentary process that improves on the Dean Smith bill to implement same sex marriage with freedom of conscience for all, not just the churches.”

This article was written by:
Michelle Grattan – [Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra]





This article is part of a syndicated news program via

What economics has to say about same-sex marriage

Image of a same sex couple If people want commodities like:  
love, company, doing tasks together, they are better off if marriage 
is permitted. David Crosling/AAP

Love and companionship make most people happy and generally represent two of the key reasons why couples marry.

In the economists’ view, love and companionship are a particular type of commodity: they cannot be purchased or traded on a market, but they can be produced by a household to generate happiness for its members.

There are potentially many other of these “household-produced” commodities, including raising children, preparing meals, caring for each other, and achieving economic stability.

The question is then how to produce these commodities more efficiently so that people are happier.

Efficiency in this case does not just mean “more”, but also “better quality” commodities. For instance, the happiness of a person is not just determined by the number of meals prepared and consumed, but also by their quality.

Economists look at marriage in this context. Examining the commodities marriage can produce helps us understand why people marry, how individuals sort each other into married couples, and what this means for society as a whole.

It turns out that economics does a pretty good job at explaining and predicting patterns in marriage that would otherwise appear irrational. For example economics can help explain why there is a difference between married and non-married people when it comes to if, and eventually how much, they want to work.

We marry because…

The fundamental economic view of marriage goes back to the theory of Nobel Laureate Gary Becker.

People can produce household commodities in some amount without necessarily having to marry. However, when people marry, they pool their resources together (the most important one being time) and can specialise in certain tasks. This allows them to produce more and better quality household commodities.

For instance, by sharing tasks such as shopping and cleaning, a married couple can produce better quality meals than two individuals that shop, clean and cook separately.

In principle, the same productivity gains could arise from a co-habitation or de facto relationship. However, in this case, the two people in the relationship would also have to set up contracts to figure out important arrangements like household finance and inheritance (among other things).

There also is some significant costs, not only in money but in time, in working all of this out. Whereas a marriage contract already embeds some of these aspects. That in itself is an efficiency gain associated with marriage over cohabitation or de facto relationship.

So, if people want the commodities we mentioned: love, company, doing tasks together, they are better off (i.e. happier) if marriage is permitted.

This whole framework doesn’t require people to be of the same or different sex. Heterosexual and homosexual couples will generate different patterns in terms of what commodities they produce. Still, marriage will generate some productivity and efficiency gains for couples, irrespective of their gender.

What economics has to say about the effect on the rest of society

From an economic perspective, the fact that same-sex marriage allows people to achieve some productivity and efficiency gains (which some of us might call happiness!) does not automatically mean that it should be established by law. For example, if same-sex marriage were to produce some negative effects on the rest of the society.

In this regard, the public debate has focused on how permitting same-sex marriage would (or would not) reduce overall marriage in society, increase divorce rates, or lessen the importance of having children in marriage.

In fact, there’s now a growing body of empirical research, published across various fields (from economics, to demography, sociology, and public policy), that estimates the impact of permitting same-sex marriage on marriage, abortion, and divorce rates (or couple stability).

A study in 2009, using US data, found no statistically significant adverse effect from allowing gay marriage. Another US study in 2014 found no evidence that allowing same-sex couples to marry reduces the opposite-sex marriage rate.

One more study indicated that same-sex couples experience levels of stability similar to heterosexual couples. That study also found that for couples (both same-sex and different-sex) living in a state with a ban against same-sex marriage there was an associated instability.

To some extent, findings from this line of research are still preliminary and have to be taken with caution. This is because same-sex marriage, even where permitted, has been introduced only recently. Therefore only a relatively short time span is available to observe its effects. So the jury is still out.

However, my own reading of the research produced so far is that there is generally little evidence of significant negative societal effects of same-sex marriage.

Going forward, as more data becomes available, empirical research will allow for a more refined assessment of the impact of same-sex marriage on society and the extent to which permitting same-sex marriage could (or not) weaken the social purpose of traditional marriage.

This article was written by:
Image of Fabrizio CarmignaniFabrizio Carmignani – [Professor, Griffith Business School, Griffith University]







This article is part of a syndicated news program via

Marriage Equality – Why a YES vote is important

An Editorial

Now the papers for the non-binding vote on marriage equality have started to be delivered and with them, comes a very important decision.
Do you vote YES to the right of people to marry regardless of gender, or do you vote NO to maintain the status quo.
The federal government would have us believe that there are far more important issues to deal with than this issue. Are there?
There is no denying that national security, education, welfare, energy provision and a long list of issues aren’t critical and demand our attention.
But what of marriage equality?
In an article written by George Rennie, Lecturer in American Politics and Lobbying Strategies, University of Melbourne and published yesterday in the Toorak Times, Rennie wrote,
the No campaign has distinct advantages when it advertises. These primarily relate to status-quo bias. Research shows that political actors often have an aversion to change, and will disproportionately focus on perceived losses relative to perceived gains. 
As such, advocacy campaigns that focus on losses tend to do better than those focused on gains. On same-sex marriage, the gain is clear for some (such as those seeking to marry, and the rights this affords), but it is more reliant on more abstract notions like “fairness” for those not directly affected.
To that end, a campaign that suggests same-sex marriage will somehow erode many people’s rights (or those of their children) has an advantage over a campaign focused on establishing new rights.
Does voting YES erode people’s rights? We would argue that not only does it not erode rights; it is quite the opposite as it provides rights to those who currently are denied them. It would be the NO vote that erodes rights through its denial of allowing choice.
In regard to spurious arguments being made by some sections of the community, marriage equality will take nothing away from the religious freedom of those who oppose it; it will restore and uphold the religious freedom of those in favour.
Now should the YES vote prevail and should the federal government allow a free vote and should that vote support the YES vote by the people and that is a lot of “should”, then those who wish to marry a person of the opposite sex will have lost no rights whatsoever, while, those who wish to marry someone of the same sex will have gained that important right.
It is our belief that the NO campaign is largely upon claims and statements that have no empirical evidence to support them. The NO campaign is based upon fear and misinformation and plays upon the concerns of people who either resist change, for in these people’s minds change takes us out of the comfort of the status quo and into the fearful unknown or, have strong sometimes-extremist religious points of view.
This does not mean these citizens do not have the right to practice those beliefs and hold the sanctity of marriage to be between a man and a woman.
However the NO vote does deny those who do not hold those strong religious beliefs, of which according to the last census is a growing percentage of the population, the right to make a choice based upon their beliefs. Those who support the YES vote are expressing beliefs that are no less valid than those supporting a NO vote.
In our opinion a YES vote is imperative. It sends a strong message that we believe that marriage equality is a right that all Australians should have. We support the contention that Australian’s have a right to choose a partner to spend their life with regardless of what other Australian’s might.
We believe a YES vote makes a declaration that this nation has both a strong and healthy heart and, a strong and healthy soul. Further we believe that it shows that this country is prepared to move forward with confidence that it can recognise and appreciate the past but is ready to move forward into a future where all really can have a “fair go”!
By saying YES to marriage equality we affirm that this country has at its core the value that says everyone has the right to be treated equally and has the right to find happiness in marriage with a partner of choice.
It makes not just a declaration regarding equality of choice but where and who we are as a nation.
Let’s move forward together – we support a vote of YES!

Rob Greaves
Senior Editor – Toorak Times

Marriage vote : how advocacy ads exploit our emotions in divisive debates

 The ‘Yes’ campaign’s first ad focused 
on the evidential flaws with the ‘No’ campaign’s ads.

The same-sex marriage debate in Australia was always bound to be divisive and emotive. And as a public vote on whether it should be legalised nears, the role of advocacy advertisements will become increasingly important in swaying the opinion of undecided voters.

While polls show strong support for marriage equality at present, the history of widespread advocacy campaigns shows that the “No” campaign has many unfair advantages – especially when it uses ads to make its point.

The No campaign’s natural advantage

The efficacy of both the “Yes” and “No” arguments can be related to Mill’s “harm principle”: one side believes the only harm being done is to those who happen to be attracted to those of the same sex; the other side believes harm is being done to religious and moral values. How they present these ideas will dramatically affect the outcome of the vote.

However, the No campaign has distinct advantages when it advertises. These primarily relate to status-quo bias. Research shows that political actors often have an aversion to change, and will disproportionately focus on perceived losses relative to perceived gains.

As such, advocacy campaigns that focus on losses tend to do better than those focused on gains. On same-sex marriage, the gain is clear for some (such as those seeking to marry, and the rights this affords), but it is more reliant on more abstract notions like “fairness” for those not directly affected.

To that end, a campaign that suggests same-sex marriage will somehow erode many people’s rights (or those of their children) has an advantage over a campaign focused on establishing new rights.

The No campaign’s second advantage comes with its ability to muddy the waters and associate as many negatives with same-sex marriage as it can. Again, this uses status-quo bias: when in doubt, people typically vote no.

And “facts” play an almost negligible role in changing voter behaviour in the face of strong emotionally based arguments.

The ad campaigns so far

So far, the ads for and against same-sex marriage have been intelligently made.

Polls have consistently shown that as the religiosity of Australians has declined, support for gay rights has grown. This bodes poorly for the No campaign, and it knows it. As a result, the Australian Christian Lobby has focused more on the idea that same-sex marriage will lead to a sort of social, moral decline.

An Australian Christian Lobby ‘No’ ad.

Its ad cites no evidence for the assertions in it, but facts and evidence are less relevant in political advertising than many might like to think.

It’s a smart ad: it builds an emotional connection with traditional family-oriented voters, based on fear. Importantly, it sows doubt in those it connects with, which can be hard to overcome.

Another ad designed to air on Father’s Day was blocked by Free TV Australia, which considered the ad political. The group behind it, Dads4Kids, neglected to attach an identification tag, which would have resolved the issue.

Dads4Kids’ Father’s Day ad.

The group denied the ad was either political or related to the marriage vote. But two lines in the 60-second spot appear designed for the debate: first, “Your mummy and I are a perfect team”, then “I can’t wait to … watch as you put on a wedding ring”. These are presented as positive messages, but reinforce existing ideals of parenting as between men and women.

These kinds of ads may be used again, but are less effective for the No campaign than the more overtly stress- or fear-inducing ones.

Experts assert there is no evidence to support the No campaign’s assertions. Its messaging is, in that strict sense, irrational.

But that’s the point: muddying the waters in advocacy advertising plays on the unquestioning parts of the brain. Fear of the unknown and unknowable can be baseless – even silly – but it works.

When Yes Equality launched its first TV ad, it was defensive, and focused on the evidence problems with the No ads.

A Yes campaign ad.

The latest ad from the Yes campaign doesn’t give viewers the time to build any connection: there are too many faces, too much going on.

Another ad from the Yes campaign.

Debunking and clearing up confusion is important, as is mobilising voters, but the most successful campaigns focus more on establishing emotive-empathetic links with viewers than rational ones

Such campaigns usually rely on stress or anger. The US campaign against “Hillarycare” did it in 1993; when unions fought the WorkChoices legislation, they did it too; and the mining industry did it in its battle against the Rudd-Gillard mining taxes in 2010.

A union anti-Workchoices ad.

Giving the same-sex marriage debate relatable, likeable faces, and building emotional narratives, will be critical to countering the fear-based charge of the “No” ads. This is especially the case if the campaign maintains or increases its advertising spending.

Lessons from Ireland

Ireland’s 2015 referendum on same-sex marriage offers compelling – if not completely analogous – examples of what might happen in Australia.

Ireland voted in favour of same-sex marriage, 62% to 38%. This was well down from pre-referendum opinion polls, where support was as high as 76%. Polling shows Australians’ support for marriage equality is similarly strong — as high as 76% – and it’s likely a charged debate will bring a similar drop.

However, there is a key difference. In Ireland, political ads are banned on broadcast media – so, no TV spots, nor radio. Australia has no such prohibition.

The complexity of an issue like same-sex marriage (or almost any political issue) is not well distilled into 30-second audio-visual pitches. Instead of through ads, the Irish debate largely took place on panel discussions, in parliament, and in public and private places around the country.

The closest ads Ireland ran to Australia’s TV spots were internet-based, such as those made by the Iona Institute and Mothers and Fathers Matter. These pushed the idea that both a mother and a father were necessary or ideal for bringing up children.

Mothers and Fathers Matter campaign ad.

Iona Institute ad.

Otherwise, the ads were made for billboards, newspapers and the internet, but their impact was likely to be lower than if TV spots were used. Internet ads generally have lower saturation and reach fewer demographics (including older voters, who are more likely to resist same-sex marriage).

And static, image-based ads don’t have the same efficacy as TV ones – especially in terms of emotive reactions, which lend themselves more to irrational associations.

What to expect as the vote nears

Ireland’s experience shows that even where ads are kept from broadcast media, there can be a dramatic drop in support for same-sex marriage after a prolonged, divisive debate. But throwing well-made TV and radio ads into the mix may well prove a critical distinction between Australia and Ireland.

The No campaign will continue to draw on as many negative associations as possible, especially related to children. Its campaign has been significantly dependent on fear, and shows no indication of changing.

Once the vote is properly underway, the intensity of the ads is likely to increase. Without an adequate counter from the Yes campaign – especially one offering more emotionally compelling messages – the advantages of the No campaign are likely to narrow the polling gap significantly.

This article was written by:






This article is part of a syndicated news program via

Queen’s Birthday Street Party – St Kilda

Queen's Birthday in Fitzroy Street

THIS SUNDAY 11 June 2017 all eyes will be on Fitzroy Street, St Kilda …. and this time, for all the right reasons!

The Gatwick is now vacant and preparations for The Block 2018 are well underway, and no better time to celebrate than this weekend’s QUEEN’s BIRTHDAY.

The Fitzroy Street Business Association will be hosting their first ever QUEEN’s BIRTHDAY STREET PARTY from 3pm till 6pm.

Under the meticulous eye of the Association’s Vice President & well known celebrity photographer, Murray Schoorman, the street is set to “come alive” with a bevvy of live entertainment throughout the afternoon.

Commencing seaside, at the St Kilda Seabaths, a decadent horse-drawn carriage will transport the birthday girl (Queen Elizabeth Impersonator) over the Esplanade and into Fitzroy Street. This convoy will be flanked by the official Royal British Guards and will be played in by the traditional bagpipes.

Roving up and down the street, members of the general public will be able to stop and take photographs with Her Majesty and her entourage.

Outside the Metropol complex will be a highly skilled fire twirler spinning his flames like no other guy can do.

All the while, sexy models in “Queen of Hearts” costumes and a magician will be entertaining the crowds till sunset.

You wont miss the amazing stilt walkers, adding to the exciting “street party” vibe!

It would not be a Queen’s Birthday without St Kilda’s famous resident Queen’s – DRAG QUEEN’s of course!

Look out for iconic gender illusionists, Paris, Krystal Ring, Pashion and Rita LC who will be camping it up like they do best.

Venues along Fitzroy Street will be decorated in British flair and many will be hosting after parties into the wee hours of the Monday morning. Which we may add, is a public holiday so no need to rush off to work, guests may like to splash out at the boutique TOLARNO HOTEL where they are offering their rooms for a heavily discounted rate of only $110 for the night.

The Association has enlisted the services of Melbourne’s PR queen, Helen Reizer from HRPR to ensure the street is buzzing with VIP’s and Celebrities to welcome Her Majesty and show off the streetscape from it’s best angle.

This event is a key milestone for the community as they are now on the up & up following an extremely tough and challenging trading season.

All public are invited to come along from 3pm and show their support & enjoy a right-royal party!.

For more information, please visit their Facebook event page;

Fitzroy Street

Midsumma Festival


The first quarter of the year has slipped by so quickly.

All at Midsumma are excited to have now launched applications for our Midsumma Futures mentoring program. Help us spread the word amongst early career artists and culture-makers about this eight-month program of support.  We were also thrilled to be successful in securing a capacity building grant from the Victorian Government that will enable us to boost marketing and promotional support for the festival.

We are now hard at work putting the finishing touches on plans for our Midwinta Ball; details will be released very soon. In the meantime put a big circle around the evening of Saturday 12 August and save the date for what will be a wonderful way to celebrate with us and help raise funds towards our artist and event support initiatives for the coming year.

Wishing everyone a safe and fun Easter. See you on the other side.

CEO, Midsumma

Zoe Brinnand wins Playtime Staged Readings with ‘My Big Fat Lesbian Greek Wedding’

Zoe Brinnand wins Playtime Staged Readings with 'My Big Fat Lesbian Greek Wedding'

Gasworks Arts Park, in partnership with Midsumma, is proud to announce that Zoe Brinnand has won the Playtime Staged Readings and the opportunity to take her work to full development. Playtime Staged Readings invite developing voices in queer theatre to submit works for consideration. These are then shared with a Midsumma at Gasworks audience, with a panel of judges providing feedback. More >>

Victorian Government awards $900K in LGBTQIA+ Community Grants

Victorian Government awards $900K in LGBTQIA+ Community Grants

The Victorian Government has announced that $900,000 in community grants will go to 38 organisations and individuals working in the LGBTQIA+ community, including Midsumma Festival. More >>

Sydney Dance Company’s ORB: 17 – 20 May

Sydney Dance Company's ORB: 17 – 20 May

Be captured by Sydney Dance Company’s ORB at Arts Centre Melbourne – an extraordinary lunar mystery featuring the world premiere of Ocho by Rafael Bonachela and Full Moon by Cheng Tsung-lung, the Artistic Director of Taiwan’s phenomenal Cloud Gate 2. Email with subject ORB to enter the draw for a double pass for Thu 18 May. More >>

Fringe Festival @ Testing Grounds: EOIs open

Fringe Festival @ Testing Grounds: EOIs now open

One of Midsumma’s favourite arts venues, Testing Grounds will curate a multi-disciplinary Melbourne Fringe Festival program (14 Sep – 1 Oct) of visual art, new media art, live-art, dance and performance projects that are site-responsive, take calculated risk and are experimental in their form. There will be no venue hire fees for all selected projects. EOIs now open. More >>

Comedy Festival: YUMMY 20% discount

Directed by James Welsby (BRIEFS, Finucane and Smith), and featuring a Midsumma alumni powerhouse team of drag, circus and burlesque performers, YUMMY has become something of a phenomenon that looks set to leave its mark on Australia’s drag history. View trailer >>
Enter code midsumma when booking tickets to get adult tickets at concession prices – that’s 20% off (expires 3pm Sat 15 Apr). More >>

Move In May: Fun Run or Walk for IDAHOTIB

Move In May: Fun Run or Walk for IDAHOTIB

This large-scale community fun run/walk on Sunday 21 May is an open-minded, all inclusive event in support of IDAHOTIB that welcomes anyone who believes in equality and inclusion, regardless of their sexuality and/or gender, which will have you entertained from start to finish. Proceeds go towards Stand Up Events’ preventative programs, to be implemented into junior sporting clubs in order to eradicate sexual & gender discrimination. Register to Participate >>

Studio Welder: A Week of Free Acting Classes

Studio Welder: A Week of Free Acting Classes

The Owl & Cat Theatre and Studio Welder present a six week Beginner part-time class for actors. “Acting Essentials” has been designed for people who are new to the field of acting, or haven’t been in the game for a long time and want to break into the industry. More >>

The Queer News Shortlist

The Queer News Shortlist

Some of the best in queer ideas, writing and culture this week from around the world.

Sarah Waters: ‘The Handmaiden turns pornography into a spectacle – but it’s true to my novel’ by Claire Armitstead
“Waters’ hit novel Fingersmith, about a lesbian love affair in Victorian England, has been transported to 1930s Korea for a new film. The author explains how it remains faithful to her original.” via The Guardian

Activists are helping gay men flee from Russia’s Chechen region by OIP Staff
“Gay men in the Russian region of The Chechen Republic are fleeing as authorities reportedly round up people who are gay, or perceived to be gay.” via OUTinPerth

Tasmania moves to wipe gay sex convictions by Jess Jones
“Sex between men should never have been a crime.” via Star Observer

And finally…
Dutch protest after attack on gay couple 
“Hundreds demonstrated in Dutch cities on Saturday in a show of support for gay rights after a male couple were attacked last week while walking hand-in-hand.” via SBS

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