Warrimoo couple thrilled at same-sex marriage ‘yes’ result

Warrimoo couple Ben Gresham and Michael Petchell were overjoyed at the ‘yes’ vote last Wednesday and can now begin looking at venues for their Blue Mountains wedding next September.
Warrimoo couple Ben Gresham and Michael Petchell were overjoyed at the ‘yes’ vote last Wednesday and can now begin looking at venues for their Blue Mountains wedding next September.

Ben Gresham and Michael Petchell were overjoyed at the ‘yes’ vote last Wednesday and can now begin looking at venues for their Blue Mountains wedding next September.

The Warrimoo couple was not surprised that 63.9 per cent of the Macquarie electorate voted ‘yes’ – a figure higher than the 61.6 per cent nationally that supported changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry. 

“The high vote reflects our experience when we were out there speaking to people. In Springwood it was 65 [per cent yes]/35 [per cent no],” Mr Gresham said.

“There’s a perception that only in the city are people supportive of marriage equality. It’s shown that the electorates of Lindsay (56.2%) and Macquarie are overwhelmingly in support of marriage equality.”

Mr Gresham, 29, a strategic town planner, and Mr Petchell, 28, a pathology collector, got engaged in July. Determined to make the ultimate commitment, they weren’t sure at the time whether they would need to travel to New Zealand to tie the knot.

Now they’re confident the legislative hurdles in changing the law will be overcome, and they’ll be celebrating in the Blue Mountains next September.

“We can look at venues now and know for certain it will happen,” Mr Gresham said.

“It’s also about our worth as LGBTIQ people. To have the majority of Australia say we have got your back and we stand with you, that’s empowering and uplifting.”

The couple were thankful for everyone who voted yes.

“To everyone that left us messages of support, neighbours and people on the street that didn’t even know us and had messages of support, we’re very grateful for all of the support. It's beautiful to see Australia come together and support marriage equality,” Mr Gresham said.

Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill said the marriage poll result was a proud moment for Australia.

"Yes for human rights. Yes for human decency. Yes for equality. Yes for love,” he said.

"Now it is time for the government to get on with it and make marriage equality law."

A cross-party bill put forward by Liberal senator Dean Smith must pass through both houses of Parliament, and it’s expected same-sex marriage will be legalised before Christmas.

On the evening of the poll result last Wednesday, LGBTI community group Pink Mountains had organised an event at the Alexandra Hotel in Leura to celebrate.

Wentworth Falls resident and Pink Mountains committee member Jan Forrester said it was gratifying to see gay and lesbian rights change within her lifetime, to the point where the majority of Australians want same-sex marriage legalised.

“I participated in the first Sydney Mardi Gras march in 1978, and at that time, not only was homosexuality illegal, but the cops at Kings Cross were bashing us up,” said Ms Forrester.

“There’s been a sea change in the average Australian’s understanding and acceptance of homosexuality, which has been incredible to witness.”

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