The Australian electorate has spoken clearly in favour of modernising the marriage law and it is now up to federal politicians to do their job in reflecting this majority wish. But equally so it is up to this whole populace to take the milestone moment as a chance to step forward and make this an issue of inclusion and not polarisation. It has been argued the often bitterly-divisive and expensive $100 million survey to test the waters was a craven display of abnegating responsibility by those elected to make the decision but that too is in the past.
There are those who want even a majority decision to be a conspiracy of extremists, a vindictive interpretation to suit their own self-serving schismatic worldview. But clearly this vote incorporates a vast section of middle Australia who neither occupy this territory nor hold these tribal views. There are others who will see the similarly strong Yes vote in Ballarat and Newcastle as a direct indictment of the conservative Catholic church in the wake of the Royal Commission. But this is to magnify what has been largely a low-key role of the church in the campaign and to discount the capacity of voters including many catholics to make independent decisions based on the issue.
Analysis will begin as well in other areas around age, social economics and ethnicity; sure to create its own conclusions, but for now the patterns by seat are clearly not along political party lines. Rather the high attendance rate for a voluntary survey is an indication that an overwhelmingly majority care enough about this issue to be involved and to vote with a purpose.
It should also revive a note of confidence in an era of citizenship fiascos and widespread disillusionment with politics. Issues of civic change matter to voters and leaders should have the courage to pursue them without simple fear for political survival. This confidence should also be reflected in an end, or a least a détente, between the bitter extremities; the simplistic labelling or fear campaigns of slippery slopes.
Clearly not everyone agrees with same sex marriage; with as many as three in ten people in Ballarat voting no. Their opinions or beliefs should be respected in is as much as they are independent, observe the law and refrain from division and hate.
It is the also mark of confidence in a civilisation that it has the self-assurance to flourish with change, accommodating difference and making a fairer and more amicable society for all.