The Honourable Lord Mayor of Melbourne Sally Capp remembers exactly where she was on 15 November 2017 when the results of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey were announced.
Rushing to join the crowd of advocates, community members and supporters that had amassed at the forecourt of the Victorian State Library, she was stuck at the corner of Exhibition and Bourke. And remembers the moment the announcement was made, because you could feel a change sweep through the city.
“As soon as that decision came through, I knew what it was, I didn’t even need to look at my phone,” the Lord Mayor told the Star Observer. “There was an eruption of energy that you could hear from blocks away. An incredible positivity that swept the city and was almost a tangible force for good.”Melbourne counted 81,287 votes in favour of ‘yes’ (83.7% of voters.) And with the second anniversary of the ‘yes’ today, this isn’t something Mayor Capp wants us to forget.
“When something so momentous happens, it’s important to keep it in the minds of everyone,” she said. “It took so long to make this happen, with enormous effort by so many people. Just think of all the conversations and debates that happened, and the personal effort so many put in. It took a long time to get there, but we eventually got to the point of respecting people and individuals for who they are, making sure that we have equality across how people want to love each other.
“While some of the conversations were quite divisive, I think what we ultimately saw from the vote was incredibly unifying. I feel so proud that we saw changes in expectations manifested in behaviours in business, government leaders and community leaders – and it is something we need to keep celebrating,” she added.
“The organisation and effort in the city was very much the from the bottom up, and that’s what local government is all about. It’s about listening to the people and translating that ino action, and that’s what we saw happen so wonderfully around this issue and within this organisation.”
Melbourne City Council endorsed a motion to campaign in support of marriage equality, and this continued support for Melbourne’s LGBTQI communities is something Mayor Capp continues to be proud of. Especially in the Victorian Public Sector Pride Network, a peer-led network championing workplace inclusion for LGBTI employees and their allies.
“Our incredible Pride Network is really leading the way, but it wasn’t always this way. It’s through the personal efforts and courage of the members within the City of Melbourne that have changed our culture. And it is that sort of leadership and courage that’s really making a difference and reminds us that everyone has the opportunity to make a positive difference in our community.
“We all have an opportunity to create positive change. We are so proud of the leadership and vision they had, and also the determination to keep persevering to make sure that this became an issue that had support and understanding across the organisation.
“The City of Melbourne has one of the most diverse populations in any municipality in Australia. With that comes a lot of joy and challenges as the community adjusts around behaviours, expectations, values and beliefs. But we need to make sure we celebrate milestones like this, because it reminds us that there is still so much more to do, and gives us confidence to know we can, so we can reflect the values of those who live in our community.”