GALLERY: Hundreds gather in Leura to celebrate ‘yes’ result

More than 300 people gathered at the Alexandra Hotel, Leura on Wednesday night, November 15 to celebrate the “yes” result in the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. 

The celebration occurred after Australian Statistician David W. Kalisch announced on Wednesday morning that 61.6 per cent of respondents in the survey had voted yes to the question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” 

Locally, the result was an even stronger “yes”, with 63.9 per cent of survey participants choosing “yes” in the federal electorate of Macquarie.

Revellers from across the Blue Mountains and as far away as Emu Plains, Lithgow and the Capertee Valley descended on the hotel for the event, organised by local LGBTI community group, Pink Mountains. 

A celebratory atmosphere pervaded the evening, with many people donning glitter and colourful outfits, while the venue was festooned with rainbow flags. 

A large Pink Mountains banner was strung from the balcony of the hotel overlooking the beer garden and railway line, and was clearly visible to commuters returning home on evening train services.

Event organiser and Pink Mountains committee member Peter Hackney said the celebration was an historic night for the local LGBTI community.

“We expected a small, informal event with maybe a few dozen people - especially since many had gone down to Sydney to take part in the huge ‘yes’ celebrations on Oxford Street,” said Mr Hackney.

“So to have that many people in the Blue Mountains come together in a spirit of community, solidarity and fun was something special,” he said. 

Local political and community identities were among the attendees, including Blue Mountains City Councillor Romola Hollywood, Australian Marriage Equality NSW co-convenor Malcolm McPherson, and electoral officer Suzie Van Opdorp, who represented state Member for Blue Mountains, Trish Doyle. 

Ms Doyle, who could not attend as she was in state parliament on Wednesday night, told parliament the Blue Mountains and the nation had made the right decision by voting “yes”.

“I am very pleased to see that Blue Mountains residents saw through the divisive, hurtful and deceitful campaign run by those opposed to equality,” said Ms Doyle.

“I commend couples from my electorate like Belinda and Selina, who were the face of the equality campaign in my office. I commend the Pink Mountains community group and its devoted activists: Peter Hackney, Jan Forrester, Kevin Hardwick, Malcolm McPherson, Tiphanee Athans and Kylie Watson, to name just a few.”

Ms Doyle also paid tribute to the efforts of her federal colleague, Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman, as well Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill and Blue Mountains City councillors, among others. 

Ms Templeman could not attend Wednesday night’s event as she had just arrived in the country from a self-funded study tour overseas. But in a statement on social media, she said: “I look forward to voting yes in parliament on behalf of my community, and every LGBTIQ+ person in my electorate. You are seen, you are heard, you are loved and you will now be equal.

“Bring it on - let’s get it done now.”

Last month, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that if the survey returned a “yes” result, a private member’s bill legislating for marriage equality would be passed before Christmas. 

At time of writing, Liberal Senator Dean Smith from Western Australia had introduced his Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 into the senate.