Couple says same-sex marriage vote is a 'scar they will always remember'

The result of the same-sex marriage postal survey will be announced on Wednesday, but for many couples and LGBTIQ community members the process has left an emotional wound they will never forget regardless of the outcome.

Benjamin Oh and Nam Phan have been together for 13 years and are hoping Australia votes 'Yes', as it will give their family more security. 

On Wednesday, as the result is announced, their baby daughter An will be seven-months-old.

"It will be nice for it to be all over, it’s been quite long and quite difficult,” Nam said of the long voting process.

“There’s a lot of negativity and hatred – a lot of hate speech and I’ve seen a lot of people who have been affected by it and that’s been sad to see.”

The couple said the biggest thing a 'Yes' vote would give their family is the ability to better protect An and the same rights as heterosexual parents.

“We want to protect her. By law once two people are committed in a marriage, if something were to happen to either one of us or both, everything would flow down in natural course. But for us, even in de facto [relationship] any or all of that can be contested and that really scares us,” Nam said.

“We don’t have the same rights or protections as heterosexual couples.”

Nam Phan.
Nam Phan.
SBS World News

Benjamin said a 'Yes' vote would allow An to be raised in a society that says that her parents are equal.

“It’s been really draining the past few months, really, really draining,” he said.

“Your life is being put to everybody’s judgement… you don’t subject any other person to a process like that. It’s something that is actually horrible.”

Benjamin said the couple had received multiple instances of hate mail “calling us infested with sickness… saying we, our family is a danger to society.”

Sane-sex marriage around the world.
Sane-sex marriage around the world.

'Done with the bigotry', 'Yes' vote would be validation

The pair said they already felt like they were married, describing their relationship as one “full of commitment and love”.

“We’ve been together for too long and we’ve brought our communities together… our parents have very good relationships with each other. For us, I think we’re already married and our family already sees that as such,” Nam said.

“Being gay and being in a same-sex relationship it’s ingrained into us that you can’t marry and this is something that is not available to you. It’s important but I don’t think necessarily that we’ll be having a church bell wedding or reception.”

Benjamin felt a 'Yes' vote would be a “huge validation” from his community.

Benjamin Oh.
Benjamin Oh.
SBS World News

“It’s a validation for the multicultural, for the multi-faith of Australia, that yes, they’re done with the bigotry… it’s saying Australia is now ready to move with the future.”

“The United Nations statement that Australia is lagging on human rights is an indictment of the entire community. The entire postal survey has been constructed to fail, to fail marriage equality and to put us down – so if against all odds we’re able to move forward from this we just have to let it and move on and make the inclusive Australia [that] it ought to be,” he said.

When asked how they would respond to a 'No' result, Benjamin felt it would mean the fear-mongering had worked.

“The hate was louder, that’s very sad, but justice never stops and equality never stops,” he said.

“Our mothers never gave up on women’s rights and people of colour like ourselves never gave up on discrimination.”

“I wake up today and I can’t marry… if the vote is 'No' then it’s no different that day,” Nam added.

If the result is a 'No', Benjamin urged the public to reach out to the LGBTIQ community with love and support.

“If the response comes back as 'No' we have to look after the LGBTI people… Australia must reach out to their neighbours because the wounding will be a scar on this country’s history and on every LGBTI persons’ life because they will always remember what they went through,” he said.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch