Equality welcome: we're all about love
SAME-SEX marriage is now legal in Australia after the landmark bill passed the House of Representatives in Canberra last week.
It was a feat the Whitsundays supported when results of the postal plebiscite revealed 55.1% residents in the Dawson electorate voted 'yes'.
However, Member for Dawson George Christensen abstained from voting, after an amendment to give celebrants and priests the power to refuse to conduct same-sex marriages in moral grounds, failed.
While the rest of the house was rejoicing in one of the most significant moments in Australian history, Mr Christensen said the same sex marriage bill "failed to protect religious liberties”.
"Earlier this year a Catholic bishop was hauled before an anti-discrimination tribunal for explaining the Catholic teachings on marriage to Catholic school children,” he said.
"So it's clear; religious protections need to be in place or we will have more of the same.”
But the message is clear from the Whitsunday wedding industry: "Christensen does not represent us.”
Wedding Planners Whitsundays owner Jess Lawrence said she didn't think Christensen was reiterating the views of the local area.
"I think this is great - I mean the Whitsundays has always been a go to destination for weddings in Australia and it will continue to grow for both heterosexual and homosexual couples,” she said. "In the wedding industry we are are all about love; regardless of what the definition of love is to that individual.
"We want to give anyone of any orientation the best experience possible on their special day.”
To show this in more than just words, businesses in the Whitsunday wedding community plan to give away a free wedding to celebrate equality.
With more details to come, the opportunity will be open to heterosexual and same-sex couples who enter.
"We aren't in this business to make millions, we are in it for the love of love,” Ms Lawrence said.
Of the eligible Australians in Queensland who participated in the survey, the majority indicated the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry, with 1,487,060 (60.7%) responding Yes and 961,015 (39.3%) responding No.
Nearly 8 out of 10 eligible Australians in Queensland (77.9%) expressed their view -- including 303 326 residents across Central and Northern Queensland.