One year ago, today, thousands gathered around the country as the result of the same-sex marriage vote was announced, with Australians overwhelmingly voting ‘yes’ to the question of whether LGBTI Australians can marry the person they love.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics who officiated the plebiscite and recorded responses to the postal vote revealed that more than 80 per cent of eligible Australians participated in the vote, and more than 61 per cent voted yes.
Following many years of campaigning efforts from LGBTI advocates and marriage equality activists and inclusionists, same-sex marriage legislation passed through Parliament on December 7, and the law came into effect two days later.
The first same-sex marriages were expected to take place after a month, but some couples were granted exemptions and allowed to marry in December, with more than 5,400 same-sex couples married since then, which is around 5.5 per cent of all marriages.
Speaking with Human Rights Law Centre, Williamstown Football Club board member Michelle Redfern reflected on one year since the ‘Yes’ vote, which turned out to be an ironic moment for the gender equality specialist.
“It was ironic that we were apart on the day that Australia voted that we could be together, legally. I was in Sydney and Rhonda was in Melbourne. Thanks to Facetime we were ‘virtually’ together as we watched the results announcement,” she said.
In an appearance on the ABC News Breakfast television program on Thursday, Michelle Redfern spoke with Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland about some of the reasons why the couple decided to formalise their commitment to each other.
“We have great saying in our family. I’m the head of the family, Rhonda’s the neck, the neck turns the head. She presented a very compelling argument. She said: So, Michelle… remember those women in 1901 who fought for your right to vote…” she said.
“There have been people who have fought for decades and decades and given their lives and their money and their energy and their time and commitment so that we can be equal, and it was our way of honouring that, and also to provide role models.”
“We’re not spring chickens anymore, and we have a lot of young people in our network who look at a couple like us in our 50s and say: Wow, there’s Rhonda and Michelle, they’re married, and they’ve been together for nearly two decades, what a great role model.”
After 18 years together, Michelle and Rhonda Redfern got engaged on 12 December 2017, and the couple married on 25 March 2018 in their ‘backyard’ – a bowling green located at Flagstaff Gardens in Melbourne’s CBD.
"We did it!"
— News Breakfast (@BreakfastNews) November 14, 2018