Fight for equal marriage rights within legal reach
TOOWOOMBA'S gay and lesbian community members have welcomed the Federal Opposition's steps towards achieving gay marriage rights in Australia.
They have been heartened by news Ireland successfully voted in favour of same-sex marriages in an unprecedented referendum at the weekend. And they are hopeful the same steps to equality can be taken in Australia, a fight which John Turley has never given up.
Mr Turley, 55, has known he was gay since he was 10 years old.
But it wasn't until he was 21 that he felt comfortable enough to come out to his family and friends.
He said the road to equality for the gay community had been a long one.
However he believed it was nearly "time to party".
"For me, it means that for the rest of us looking for equality, it's about being able to marry who we love, not who we should be marrying," Mr Turley said.
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"Why shouldn't you be able to love who you love, and have that recognised?
"For the gay community, this is about equality."
Mr Turley said while he was heartened by the Irish referendum, it wouldn't be until that same equality reached Australia that the fight for rights had been won.
"We should be treated the same," he said.
"Heaven knows we need that equality (and) it's looking like it's time to party."
University of Southern Queensland student relationship officer and Ally Network support person Margaret Kenny welcomed the news.
Although she had never entertained the idea of marrying, the gay woman said the same-sex marriage legislation was a step toward validating gay relationships.
"It really doesn't affect me at all, but I do think everyone should have the right to marry anyone they love," Ms Kenny said.
"I can see that, for couples who do want to get married, that it will validate their relationships.
"And people should be allowed to do it."
Ms Kenny said it would be the younger generation that would more fully benefit from the bill if it were to be successful.
The Toowoomba born and raised resident said while views had changed in the city in the past 10 years since she came out, there was still a way to go before full equality and acceptance had been reached.
"Even in my time, and I'm only 42, the difference I have seen in my lifetime has been so good," she said.
"It's going to be good (for the younger generation) because they will feel more comfortable in themselves.
"They will have no reason to hide who they are."
Ms Kenny welcomed the Irish referendum result.
"I'm just disappointed that the Irish beat us to it," she said.
62% of Irish residents voted to change the constitution to permit gay marriage
Betting agency SportsBet has Bill Shorten's same-sex marriage bill to be successful, coming in at $1.75