Law must change

Among the jubilation and relief at the public’s overwhelming vote in favour of same-sex marriage was one almost unpalatable truth.

And that is, we still have to trust our politicians to respect the clear wishes of the people and change the law to allow such unions under the Marriage Act.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made clear after the result was released that he would be acting to ensure this was exactly what would happen.

More so, he said there was no reason the changes should not take place by Christmas.

It should not have come to this regardless, in several ways. First, the decision by the Howard government, in 2004, to insert the declaration that marriage must be the union of “a man and a woman” should never have happened. And the fact that the nation had to go to the hugely expensive and entirely unnecessary step of a non-binding plebiscite to reach this point is also quite ludicrous, done as it was to appease staunch conservatives.

Nevertheless, it was probably accepted that this was the proverbial means to an end for those who wanted the discrimination inherent in a prohibition of same-sex marriage to be consigned to history.

It is incumbent now that all MPs, regardless of their political allegiances, act on this very clear will of the people.

Some won’t and will more than likely use their continuing opposition to same-sex marriage for grandstanding of a peculiarly selfish, narcissistic prescription.

But fortunately, they are likely to form a very small minority and not stop change from coming about. It would appear then that the remaining bugbear will be the leeway afforded to churches and other religious entities in being able to use discretionary exemptions.

That is, deciding for themselves who they will or will not marry.  Specifically, gay couples.

It was heartening to hear on Tuesday that Attorney General George Brandis won’t tolerate the idea of replacing the existing discrimination with another.

The argy-bargy of acting on the plebiscite will no doubt produce some headaches in the weeks or possibly months ahead.

But for now, the community should take pride that it has spoken with a force that restores some shine to Australia’s tarnished reputation of recent years as an open and inclusive society. This is indeed something to celebrate.