Same-sex marriage vote prompts celebration at Dubbo

Joyful: Kym Housden and Karen Payne, who married overseas two years ago, celebrate at Dubbo after Parliament legalised same-sex marriage. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
Joyful: Kym Housden and Karen Payne, who married overseas two years ago, celebrate at Dubbo after Parliament legalised same-sex marriage. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

A rainbow flag and a board bearing a message with tones of hope, relief and joy were signs at Dubbo that a new age had dawned in Australia.

Dedicated same-sex marriage campaigner Karen Payne decked out her cafe in the city’s centre on Friday to show it was no ordinary morning.

The board summed up her feeling about Parliament voting the previous night to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia.

“It feels like a whole new world,” it proclaimed to patrons and passers-by.

Kym Housden and Karen Payne. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Kym Housden and Karen Payne. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

As Ms Payne reflected on the emphatic vote by federal politicians in Canberra, her eyes brimmed with tears.

“It feels like a whole new world,” she told the Daily Liberal, repeating her statement on the sign.

“What it means to me is my marriage two years ago is legally recognised,” she said.

“My partner will be recognised as my next of kin.

“I’m looking forward to ticking that married box on all future forms.”

The business woman and marriage equality advocate expressed a hope the country could “move forward”.

“I don’t feel like I’m in a minority group now, I feel much more included in society,” Ms Payne said.

As the historic vote drew near in the nation’s capital, hundreds of kilometres away Ms Payne was at the hairdresser.

Moments after the bill’s passage, her phone rang “like crazy” and it was her niece, wanting to share the news.

“I said to my hairdresser, ‘I’m going to have to go home to the missus’,” she said.

But as much as it had significance to her, Ms Payne believed the passing of the historic laws would particularly change the next generation’s future for the better.

“The reality is it is for the young ones,” she said.

“I’m 52, so it is a whole new world for the young ones.”

Her hopes were echoed after the vote by gay Liberal senator Dean Smith, who sponsored the same-sex marriage bill, which was backed by four colleagues.

"I'd like to dedicate (this) win to a special group of young people and that is those young LGBTI Australians who in their workplace or their schoolyard find life a little tough," he said.

"Let me tell you - you are OK, it will all be OK and this is a great country to grow up and be an LGBTI Australian in."

The marriage equality laws cleared parliament unchanged on Thursday evening after a marathon debate lasting 56 hours, despite a push from conservative politicians for additional religious protections.

More than 120 MPs spoke on the bill.

Same-sex couples will be able to lodge formal intentions to wed from this Saturday before getting married from January 9.

Gay couples who tied the knot overseas will have their unions officially recognised as soon as the laws gain royal ascent.

Under the new laws, ministers of religion and religious marriage celebrants will be able to act in accordance with their beliefs about marriage. Religious bodies will be able to act in accordance with their doctrines, tenets and beliefs in providing facilities, goods and services in connection with marriage.

Both major parties had given their members a free vote on the issue.