Phil Wakeling and Rick Buckmaster, of Nymboida, were on opposite sides of the world when the decision was made.
Phil Wakeling and Rick Buckmaster, of Nymboida, were on opposite sides of the world when the decision was made.

Couple's long distance party to celebrate SSM vote

NOT EVEN 10,000km separating them could stop Clarence Valley couple Phillip Wakeling and Rick Buckmaster celebrating the fact they could finally be legally married.

When Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made the announcement at 5.58pm on Thursday that same sex couples in Australia could legally marry, the couple switched to technology for their celebrations.

"Rick's in the UK on a business trip to open a Bunnings store,” Mr Wakeling said.

"When the result came through Rick and I had a Facetime session and celebrated.

"I popped some champagne and we celebrated the vote as best we could.”

Mr Wakeling said while feeling exulted at the result, the process had left him exhausted.

"We got very much involved with all of the campaign and to have it end this way is a blessed relief,” he said.

Mr Wakeling said he and Rick would need to set a date to confirm their existing marriage.

"We decided to get married in 2011 because we decided we couldn't wait for Australia to catch up,” he said.

"We're not sure if we'll just go down to the registry and make it legal or have another big party.”

Mr Wakeling said he opposed the postal survey which led to Thursday's historic vote in Parliament.

"Malcolm (Turnbull) should have shown some some leadership and brought the vote on in parliament,” he said.

"During the same sex marriage debate there was a 40per cent increase in calls to Lifeline and gay help lines and I heard people say they hadn't experienced bullying like that since their days at high school.

"The only positive was the fantastic response from the Australian public has removed any reason for opponents of same sex marriage to argue against the result.”

He said it was good to see only four politicians voted against the bill, but was disappointed at the decision by 12 to abstain from the vote.

"Tony Abbott is really copping it on Facebook, I've noticed,” Mr Wakeling said.

"About 75per cent of the people in his electorate voted for same sex marriage and he couldn't bring himself to represent them in Parliament.”



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