After a grueling two-month mail-in vote, the results of Australia’s survey on marriage equality were finally announced at 10 a.m. (AEDT) on Nov. 15, 2017. If the Yes campaign won, Australia would take a giant step toward marriage equality. If No won, the status quo would remain.
The stakes couldn’t have been any higher.
As nerves built, Aussies gathered in Melbourne to hear the vote tallies.
When the results were announced, giving the Yes campaign its resounding victory, pure joy erupted in the streets.
The historic, powerful moment was caught on video by opposition leader and LGBTQ rights supporter Bill Shorten. For millions of LGBTQ Australians, lives will be forever changed after the vote.
Here are 15 powerful photos from this remarkable moment in history:
1. With an overwhelming margin of victory, Yes votes won the mail-in survey with 61.6% of the vote.
2. There were lots of smiles — and tears.
3. And even more (rainbow-colored) confetti.
The results fell in line with public polling that has consistently showed a large majority of Australians supporting marriage equality. “This is our proudest moment as gay and lesbian Australians,” Chris Lewis, a 60-year-old artist from Sydney, told The New York Times. “Finally I can be proud of my country.”
Despite some nervous jitters among some Yes campaign officials in recent days, the end results were nowhere near close.
4. Yes votes won in all six of Australia’s individual states and territories.
Even in the more conservative ones.
5. “It was not just about us,” said Yes supporter Annika Lowry. “It’s for our kids, so that they know equality is important.”
6. Having your humanity debated via survey doesn’t feel all that great, as many Australians could tell you.
7. But after exhausting years of debate, knowing that most of your country has your back has got to be a good feeling.
Yes supporters have much reason to celebrate, of course. But there’s an important catch. The survey was just that — a survey. It won’t result in any actual change to the law … quite yet.
Parliament will use the vote, which was processed through the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as a gauge of public sentiment on the issue preceding a parliamentary vote before the end of the year.
Considering the wide margin of victory and high participation — a whopping 79.5% of eligible voters submitting a Yes or No vote! — Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said a vote on marriage equality should be decided by Christmas.
8. For many, that moment can’t come soon enough.
9. Australia is among the last westernized countries in the world to make marriage equality the law of the land.
10. For years, the issue has hit partisan roadblocks in parliament despite marriage equality’s widespread popularity.
11. Finally, though, the spark for true change has been lit.
And it definitely won’t be extinguished now.
12. “This all happened because of you,” the Yes campaign told supporters. “We did this together.”
13. “You shouldn’t have had to put up with this survey but you embraced it,” Shorten told the LGBTQ community.
“I feel for young people who have had their relationships questioned in a way in which I wouldn’t have thought we would have seen ever again,” he said. However, “unconditional love always has the last word.”
Ain’t that the truth?
14. No one should forget that Australians sent a resounding, joyful message to the rest of the world on Nov. 15.
15. That love is love is love.
And it doesn’t matter which hemisphere you’re in either. 🌈