Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was among the first to thank and congratulate Tathra’s Eddie Blewett and his family this morning following news that Australia had said YES to marriage equality.
Remember Eddie? He came to Canberra a while ago to tell the country about why his mums deserve equality – just like other families. Eddie’s story persuaded a lot of Australians to vote yes. After the result today, there was one person I wanted to talk to.
Posted by Bill Shorten MP on Tuesday, 14 November 2017
Eddie and his mums, Claire Blewett and Neroli Dickson gathered at The Wharf Locavore at Tathra with friends to hear the announcement from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The YES win was greeted warmly by the crowd of 30 or so people, but tempered by the need for parliament to now ratify the will of the people.
“I am relieved today has finally come and that the ‘YES’ vote has won,” Eddie says.
“Let’s get this done now so that families like mine can go back to doing what families do.”
Eddie took his story and point of view to Canberra the day the first survey forms were posted – September 12.
The Labor caucus lead by Mr Shorten and his Deputy Tanya Plibersek came and shared Anzac biscuits and a game of soccer with Eddie and his mates (which includes my family) on the front lawn of Parliament House.
The event made national news, Eddie’s simple and authentic message rang loudly.
“People who know my family, know that there is nothing wrong with us,” Eddie told the Canberra media pack on September 12.
“We play soccer in the winter and volunteer for the surf club in the summer,” he said.
“I have two parents, they love me and they love each other, all couples and all families deserve the same respect and value.”
#Tathra's Eddie Blewett talks to the media pack at Parliament House, Canberra with Bill Shorten MP Mike Kelly MP, and Tanya Plibersek, asking #Australia to get this done and say YES for Rainbow Families.Ian
Posted by About Regional on Monday, 11 September 2017
Realisation today that 62% of his countrymen agreed was reassuring.
“It’s been hard, having your family talked about and judged, thank you to everyone who has supported us during this difficult time,” Eddie says.
“I really hope the Prime Minister makes good on his commitment to take this to parliament and have this finalised by Christmas.”
Bill Shorten’s call this morning was a surprise, but points to the power of Eddie’s campaigning.
“Bill told me he wants this done by December 7, that was good to hear,” Eddie says.
“I am really grateful for Bill and Tayna’s support.”
With the sea under Tathra Wharf being whipped up by biting winds from every direction, those gathered started to unpick the detail of the results.
There was disappointment at the New South Wales result – the lowest YES vote in the country with 57.8%.
“Queensland (60.7% YES) and Tasmania (63.6% YES) seem more progressive,” was one cheeky comment I overheard.
News that 17 of Australia’s 150 electorates had voted NO also chipped away at the mood.
For the same-sex couples and gay people gathered seeing a number put on those who seemingly oppose who they are and their way of life was stark.
“I am really pleased most people have said YES, but it’s an uncomfortable feeling knowing that almost five million people (38%) have said NO, it’s hard not to feel that personally,” Claire Blewett says.
Seeing the local results come through renewed the energy in the 150-year-old wharf building.
“The way we got to this result has been damaging, ” Neroli Dickson says.
“But locally it’s been incredibly encouraging to experience the genuine support of so many in this country community, friends and ‘strangers’ who all want diversity celebrated, a 65% YES vote confirms it,” Neroli says.
“To know that the community we call home said YES so strongly is brilliant,” Claire adds.
“But we’ll wait for the next step to take place in parliament before we really relax and enjoy this result.”
Labor’s Mike Kelly, Member for Eden-Monaro says he is intensely proud of his electorate today.
“A result amongst the highest in Australia. I am even more proud of the respectful way in which this community on both sides engaged in the debate,” he says.
“The result demonstrates the intelligent and compassionate nature of this electorate and their steadfast belief in equality.”
In neighbouring Gilmore, Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis thanked the people of her electorate for taking part.
“I welcome the outcome, a YES vote supported by 62% of the electorate,” Ms Sudmalis says.
“I welcome the Prime Ministers commitment to have this legislated by Christmas, I will support a YES vote in the House of Representatives,” Ms Sudmalis says.
Speaking to About Regional later in the day, Bill Shorten paid tribute to the power of individual voices like Eddie’s.
“When Eddie spoke to the country about his family, I think he persuaded a lot of people to vote YES,” Mr Shorten says.
“This victory belongs to Eddie, his family and other LGBTIQ families in Australia.
“Eddie is an absolute legend. I’m really proud of him, and I know his mums are too,” Mr Shorten said.