It’s a ‘yes’.
After months of embittered political and community debate, the Riverina has fallen in line with the majority of Australians who responded ‘yes’ to the Australian Bureau of Stastistics’ postal survey.
THE BREAK DOWN
Australia – Total 'YES' votes: 61.6%
NSW – Total 'YES' votes: 57.8%
Riverina – Total ‘YES’ votes: 54.6%
It wasn’t as high as the national ‘yes’ response but the 86,641 Riverina residents to who put pen to paper emerged with a 54.6% majority.
Out of 86,641 residents who responded, 47,333 (54.6%) voted yes while 39,308 (45.4%) voted no.
Encouragingly, the Riverina also had a positive response rate of 77.2%.
The ‘yes vote has already sent shock waves through Wagga’s LGBTQI community and CSU Student Senate and Wagga Student Representative Council Rep - Jay Morris - can't believe it.
'It's unbelievable, I'm so emotional," he said.
"We're finally validated as human beings."
Mr Morris praised the resilient LGBTQI community in Wagga for their courage.
"We can stop and reflect on how amazing this is now but we're not done," he said.
"The efforts of allies to the LGBTQI community, reference groups and advocacy groups have been incredible.”
Marriage is the next step - we're going to get there regardless of what other people think.CSU Student Senate Rep Jay Morris
Rainbow Riverina president Max Lyons is another still reeling from the announcement.
“I’m speechless,” he said.
“I’m still processing everything but I’m so excited.”
The Wagga advocacy leader now wonders what lies ahead.
“We’re one step closer to our goal but we’re still wondering what’s going to happen next,” he said.
Mr Lyon says the onus now lies with Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack.
“Now that the survey has turned out a unanimous ‘yes’ result, we can put it to MR McCormack to represent the voters and support the bill that will allow the LGBTQI community to best achieve marriage equality.”
47,333 people (54.6%) within the electorate of #Riverina have returned a yes response to the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. As the Member of Parliament representing the people within the electorate of Riverina - I will be respecting and voting in support of this result.— Michael McCormack MP (@M_McCormackMP) November 15, 2017
Speaking with The Daily Advertiser on Wednesday, Mr McCormack said he would uphold the vote.
“Today’s result was democracy at work,” he said.
“I’ve always said that it would be parliament’s obligation and duty to uphold will of the people of our nation and that I would uphold the people’s vote.”
Mr McCormack wished the LGBTQI community luck and said he was pleased so many people exercised their right to vote.
“The people have made it clear what they want,” he said.
Wagga residents have taken to social media to express their views on the result and enthusiasm is being tempered with fears for another political stunt.
Popular Wagga entertainer Jaime Way is thrilled with the ‘yes’ vote but will be keeping a close eye on parliament’s next steps.
“I’m absolutely stoked and very happy that we got the result we should have got years ago but it’s disgraceful we went down this road in the first place.
“The politicians should have made this decision and I can’t believe it came down to this.”
Way sent his love to those affected by the vote and cautioned the race was not yet run.
“My thoughts are with those who have suffered through the campaign.
“But we’re still not out of it - we only voted 55% yes and that’s closer than some electorates.”
However Wagga 'no' voter Paul Bosman believes the result is the final nail in the coffin for safeguarded freedoms in the Riverina.
"This means there's now a potential for plenty of freedoms we take for granted being taken away.
“Things like freedom of speech which have up till now been safeguarded – they are at risk.”
Mr Bosman believes he will now be limited in the things he can say and believes the ‘yes’ vote will almost certainly pass in parliament.
"I don't think the politicians will vote no," he said.
"It's too late now."
Wagga will still have to wait for the parliamentary decision to see same-sex marriage formally recognised but the city’s youth are already stepping up to the plate
Jayde Crocker, 17, is the youth president at Rainbow Riverina and understand more than most the importance of today’s result.
“My phone starting buzzing as soon as the result came through and I know the day’s going to be even more exciting as more and more people find out,” she said.
“My generation didn’t have to fight for this but we’re the ones who truly benefit from this decision.”
The fight is far from over and Ms Crocker believes education is the only path forward during this intermediary period between now and the parliamentary ruling.
“I’ve always battled to express myself and promote LGBTQI education in my school,” she said.
“Personally, I think educating people and sharing the issues that we’ve had to face in the past is the best way to make people understand how important this is.
“We don't want to shove information or lifestyle beliefs down people’s throats – all we want is to make them understand how exciting this is.”
More to come.