Does the “yes” vote on same sex marriage actually change anything?

The results are in and Australia has voted "yes". But what does this actually mean?

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same sex marriage vote
Australia has voted "yes"! Photo: Nito, Bigstock

An enormous amount of time, effort and money was devoted to the recent same sex marriage vote. With a participation rate of 79.5% and a 61.6% majority returning a “yes” vote, the survey felt like a success for many people.

While we now have a good indication of the country’s perspective on same sex marriage, the question on everyone’s mind is, what does it actually change?

Although it’s clear a majority of Australians support the legalisation of same sex marriage, that in itself doesn’t suddenly change laws. The topic still stands as a controversial issue in religious, social and political arenas and a lot of convincing will be required to actually implement any new legislation.

Where are we now?

Despite Turnbull’s clear affirmative position on same sex marriage, many Coalition members do not hold these same views. With outspoken oppositions, such as former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, showing ongoing resistance to the matter, it is not a guarantee that the Bill will fly through Parliament and shift Australia’s laws in the immediate future.

In saying that, Liberal Senator Dean Smith’s Bill has been drafted and has already received the backing of both the Labor and Greens Parties. Aggregated with the eager interest of majorities in both the upper and lower houses, the swift legalisation of same sex marriage is looking promising.

The successful delivery of same sex marriage rights to several countries provides Australia with further cause to follow in their footsteps.

Namely, Canada, New Zealand, Britain and the US have all legalised same sex marriage in accordance with their citizens widely held view favouring its approval. Given the cultural similarities of these particular countries to Australia, it is likely that we won’t be far behind.

What’s next?

The result on the same sex marriage vote has undoubtedly provided significant political ammunition for its legislation, however there are still a number of steps that need to be taken before any legal changes are to be made.

Australia has seen a lot of passionate views permeate the same sex marriage campaign from both sides of the argument, given the issue’s particularly personal implications. On a long-standing discussion that has gradually gained political salience, Australia now appears to be in the process of altering its future.

In essence, Australia is now in a position where the support and backing of the majority of its citizens means the legalisation of same sex marriage is only a matter of time. So ultimately, the “yes” vote tells us change is coming!