• Australia votes yes to same sex marriage. (Getty Images)
Many in the Indigenous community have embraced Australia's majority 61.6% vote supporting a change to the current law that prevents same-sex couples to marry in Australia.
By
Laura Morelli, Rachael Hocking

15 Nov 2017 - 11:08 AM  UPDATED 16 Nov 2017 - 9:40 AM

Today marks a landmark moment in Australian history. 

Millions of people across the country have voted yes to same-sex marriage, and the black community has shown support, pride and love for their brothers' and sisters' rights. 

Northern Territory Member for Namatjira, Chansey Paech said he feels "relieved and very happy a divisive and hurtful plebiscite is over".

"Sadly it seems a few hard right conservatives want to continue to discriminate, despite the majority of Australians voting in support of marriage equality. We need to move ahead and make marriage equality a reality as soon as possible - I hope by Christmas."

Paech believes the marriage equality bill drafted by Senator Dean Smith is a good starting point to achieve marriage equality.

"The bill contains appropriate protections for religious freedoms. From what I've seen of the Paterson bill, it's a disgraceful attempt to pander to arch conservatives by making it ok to discriminate. Australians did not vote Yes to allow some businesses to put up 'no gays' signs."

He hopes we can now move ahead and see the only thing that will change is there will be more weddings.

"Central Australia is a fabulous place to tie the knot - could be a new tourism market for us! Love wins."

Senator Pat Dodson, a Yawuru man from Broome, WA says today’s result is a victory for equality in our nation.

"Marriage equality is about precisely that. Equality. The unequivocal message we have heard from the Australian people is YES. YES to ending discrimination, inequality, and prejudice," he said.

"YES to rectifying the injustices of the past. YES to marriage equality. Labor stands ready to progress legislation through the Parliament as quickly as possible."

Results from the Australian Bureau Statistics found an outstanding rate of 79.9 per cent of people responded to the vote. That is a total of 12 million 727 thousand 920 people.

The national result was a yes, with seven million 817 thousand 247 (61.6 per cent) voicing their support for a change in legislation.

The lowest participation rate was in the Northern Territory, with only 58.4 per cent of those eligible to vote who did so. Meanwhile, the ACT had the highest majority of yes vote with an astounding 74 per cent.

Community Reactions

For some in the Black LGBTQI community, the news has been bittersweet. Ballardung & Wiradjuri woman Edie Shepherd from Blackfulla’s for Marriage Equality told NITV News: “I'm so overjoyed, but I'm also full of rage that we even had to do it. But I'm happy and I'm sad and I'm angry and I'm excited and my heart breaks and it's full.”

For some of the older generations, there is another layer of emotion. Wurundjeri Elder Annette Xiberras explained that she and her partner decided they would get married more than 10 years ago.

“The thing that makes me sad is she's passed away, so we're never gonna get the opportunity that you are gonna get today,” she said.

Moving forward

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised action before Christmas, with a private member's bill to be introduced in the last sitting fortnight of parliament, which begins on November 27.

Opposition leader, Bill Shorten wants to see same-sex marriage made law within the next two parliamentary sitting weeks.

"Today we celebrate, tomorrow we legislate," the opposition leader screamed to a crowd of thousands gathered to hear the result of the same-sex marriage survey in Melbourne on Wednesday. 

"It may have been 61 per cent who voted 'yes' in the survey, but I want to say to all LGBTIQ Australians you are 100 per cent loved, 100 per cent valued.

"And after the next two weeks of parliament, 100 per cent able to marry the person that you love."

Mr Shorten thanked members of the LGBTQI community for going through the survey process, which he said should not have had to happen.

Meanwhile, those who campaigned for a No vote say while they respect the result, they will be fighting for religious freedoms in legislation which legalises same-sex marriage. 

“I think it's important to recognise that the Yes campaign said all along, 'there are no consequences to redefining marriage, this won’t affect anyone else's freedoms,' and so I expect the legislative process to reflect that,” Lyle Shelton, managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby said.

The Prime Minister will allow a private member's bill to be introduced into Parliament, but The Marriage Act can't actually be changed until the House of Representatives sits again in the week beginning on November 27.

Social media support

Former sports star and model, Casey Conway attended Prince Alfred Park to hear the live announcement, earlier he said on social media, "Sending all my love to my LGBTI brothers and sisters this morning. Be strong and hold your heads high. Love will prevail, it always does."

Despite her own personal issues, which led her to take leave from Parliament following the sudden death of her son, Federal Labor MP Linda Burney also took to social media to express the need for Australians, especially leaders in power, to stay strong and fight discrimination within our communities.

Writer, actor and lawyer, Nakkiah Lui took to social media to encourage all Indigenous communities to show support in a bid to unite Australians.

"To Aboriginal people who voted No: pull your head out of your bum! We don't have equality unless ALL people have equality," she said.

"Dot not inflict the hate that has been inflicted on our community onto others. Fight colonisation and oppression with love & compassion - the opposite of the value system that's been enforced on us - that's what shows sovereignty never ceded!"

The day will be one of many celebrations across all states.

Blackfellas for marriage equality called on community members to unite for the survey result release.

"We will stand together as mob with banners, flags and stickers! We will make our way to the front!" They said in a statement on social media. 

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