Bittersweet Memories A Year After The Marriage Equality Vote
It's been 12 months since it was announced that marriage equality would become law, with politicians and LGBTQ Australians sharing their memories -- good and bad -- of the vote process and the year since.
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull -- whose administration backed in the postal survey vote, and legislated for same-sex marriage -- has been criticised as he marked the milestone.
The Bureau of Statistics announced the results of the postal survey vote at 10am on November 15, 2017 -- with 7.82 million Australians (61.6 percent) responding yes and 4.9 million (38.4 percent) responding no.
At announcement parties, pubs, offices and homes around the country, countless Australians awaited the result with bated breath, then celebrated the reform that had been years in the making.
A year on, many of the key players in the change again celebrated the result, with campaigners and politicians saying they were proud to have played a part in the reform.
Labor's Penny Wong -- whose tear-stained face after the announcement became one of the iconic images of recent political history -- said it had been a "bruising experience."
"But the country did a great thing... Australia made a profound statement about inclusion and acceptance," she told Sky News on Thursday.
"The sky hasn't fallen. But we have changed as a country, we together said 'you are included and you are accepted'."
Outside politicians, many of the main campaigners who pushed for the reform also marked the day -- while in Sydney, supporters gathered at Prince Alfred Park, the site of one of the major vote result parties, to mark the anniversary.
Peter de Waal, one of the famous '78ers' who participated in the first Mardi Gras and blazed a trail for Australia's LGBTQ community, was one of those who went to the Sydney celebration.
It was a bittersweet day for him -- he and his partner Peter Bonsall-Boone had been long-time campaigners for marriage equality. Peter died just months before the reform was enacted.
"Still very mixed emotions. My partner and I were together 50 years. We had hoped to get married before he died, but the legislation, Mr Turnbull was too late," de Waal told 10 daily.
"We had the cake, we had our wedding rings, but he never delivered our marriage certificate. It's not as bittersweet today as it was last year, but I still feel it. But it's wonderful it's come about for our community."
"We shouldn't forget there's still work to be done. We have gay and lesbian refugees on Manus Island and Nauru... there are pockets [in Australia] of still very repressed young people and I think they live under conditions I remember about 30 years ago, when it was really difficult to come out to your parents or at work."
Many members of the LGBTQ community used the anniversary of the vote result to share their stories of love and marriage from the previous year.
The ABC reported nearly 5400 same-sex couples had tied the knot since December 2017, and many were happy to share how the law change had benefited their lives.
But on a day of celebration, others also were not yet able to let go of the hurt and trauma experienced during the survey period.
Many LGBTQ people and allies still resent the fact that a reform seen by many as a basic human right was subjected to a popular vote, which led to damaging -- and often incorrect -- rhetoric from anti-equality campaigners.
Wong called the process "bruising" and many still bear the emotional scars of the vote.
The Turnbull government was the one that finally legislated marriage equality in Australia, after years of inaction from governments on both sides despite opinion polls showing the majority of people supported the reform.
However, his government's decision to push for a formal plebiscite, and then the voluntary postal survey, remains controversial.
As the postal vote was enacted, objections were raised over the mental toll such a public campaign and vote could have on the LGBTQ community.
Many were quick to raise their objections to Turnbull's celebratory tweet about the vote on Wednesday night.
"If you had any commitment to democracy you would have just passed the law in the first place, without the plebiscite," one person wrote in response to Turnbull's tweet.
"You do appear to have overlooked how angry we all were with you for making us go through the postal ballot to get what it was already clear we wanted," said another.
As of time of writing, Turnbull's tweet has more than 700 replies -- many of them angry.