Happy anniversary: Three years on from marriage equality

November 15 marked three years since Australia overwhelmingly voted yes in a divisive plebiscite to allow same-sex couples to marry.

At the time, the Gazette featured the story of Ben Gresham, 29, and Michael Petchell, 28, from Warrimoo, who dearly wanted to make the ultimate commitment before family and friends.


They were overjoyed when 61.6 per cent of voters said yes to changing the law in Australia. In the Macquarie electorate 63.9 per cent had voted 'yes'.

At the time, Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill described the marriage poll result as 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."

On December 9, 2017 the Marriage Act was updated and same-sex couples' right to marry was enshrined in law.

"There had been lots of debate in the lead up to the vote, there was a lot of emotion from each of the sides," Ben Gresham-Petchell reflected on three years ago.

"The law changed and it really only affected people who wanted to get married. It's not even talked about now, it's normalised."

The couple had planned to marry in the Blue Mountains in September 2018, and were completely shocked when they learned after the 'yes' result that they'd won an entire wedding package in a competition. They were married on January 11, 2018 at a ceremony at Pier One on Sydney Harbour.

"To be able to get married and to sign the marriage certificate and have it all legal was quite emotional, especially after such a long period in the lead up to the marriage equality vote," Mr Gresham-Petchell said.

"To have it legal was very affirming. It was a really positive, healing type experience for us and emotionally uplifting."

Today, people barely bat an eye when either man introduces his husband.

The couple have moved from Warrimoo into a bigger house in Hazelbrook where they plan to start a family in the next few years.

"There's a real need in the foster system," Mr Gresham-Petchell said.

In the meantime, they've welcomed a rescue cat and dog into their home, and are enjoying newly-married life.

"A lot of us never thought it would happen," Mr Gresham-Petchell said.

"We went to six or seven same-sex weddings in the year since it was legalised. It was beautiful to see so many couples marry. In some cases they had waited 20 years, and to see that realised in their lives."

In the six months after same-sex couples were legally allowed to marry, more than 3000 marriages between same-sex couples were registered, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.


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