For centuries these two words have sealed the union of ‘a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others’. The people of Australia voted in favour of making the Marriage Act more inclusive. Today, the House of Representatives affirmatively voted a bill into law that gives same-sex couples an equal right to marry.
This is a happy day for my family. I have three male cousins who are a similar age. Last year the eldest two married the women they loved. Their weddings were joyful occasions filled with laughter, heartfelt words and happy tears. My youngest cousin was his brother’s best man, as they stood side-by-side their resemblance was striking. They have the same colour hair and eyes, the same long legs and the same kind hearts but they didn’t have the same rights. As a gay man, the younger brother knew that he might never have a wedding, or a marriage, of his own.
That has changed.
As an equal opportunity employer, committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace, Telstra has supported the campaign for marriage equality.
We’re working towards a range of other inclusion goals; greater workplace gender diversity, accessibility and inclusion, economic opportunity for Indigenous Australians and support for victims of family violence; to name a few.
Now that the Marriage Equality campaign is over and the dream of being married in Australia is a reality, we’ve asked some of our people how they’re feeling and what their hopes are for the future.
Here’s what they had to say:
Elana at the Midsumma Carnival in Melbourne, Content Producer
It sounds dramatic, but it truly is a momentous event in Australian history hearing that the bill has passed through parliament. For many, it’s much more than a change in wording in the Marriage Act. It’s a mark of acceptance and support, because it’s confirmation that the majority of Australians – including our friends, neighbours and colleagues – believe that same-sex couples should have the same legal rights as their heterosexual counterparts. And so it opens the door, finally, for people to feel at ease in their own skin, be who they are, and love who they love – openly, and proudly.
I can honestly say that I felt at ease going to work throughout this period, because while a diverse range of views are held, there were support mechanisms in place should I require them. Community support through our organisation’s LGBTI+ network Spectrum granted the ability to share views and concerns in an understanding environment. And for when the vote was read, “safe meeting spaces” were arranged and counselling support made available for individuals who wanted to hear the news in a supportive setting. Now that’s an organisation that shows support for its people!
Dan and his fiancé Justin, Business Channel Specialist
If I were to sum up my feelings on the outcome in one word I’d say, emotionally joyful! OK, that’s two words…
My fiancé Justin and I started organising our wedding a year ago and were quietly confident that marriage equality would be legal before our wedding day in June 2018. To see this actually happening, before our big day, has been an emotional rollercoaster. From tears of happiness, excitement, and then stress to getting the rest of the wedding planning sorted! Thank goodness Justin is the most organised person I know.
I have had so many family members calling and messaging me, sharing their love and excitement from the announcement of the postal vote through to it passing in the Senate!
It was fantastic to have Telstra actively supporting us to take time out of our days to gather together to share and celebrate the postal vote announcement. Now that we’re moving through with the Senate passing the bill and onto the House of Representatives, I have heard so much positive chatter around the office from people from all walks of life. WHOOPS of joy at each announcement of a step forward through to sharing their own personal reasons why passing this bill is so important to them. This makes me so proud to work for Telstra who openly supports Marriage Equality and provides a safe place where we can have these discussions and everyone is able to be themselves without fear of judgement.
Sarah, Senior Operations Specialist
After the initial elation of the ‘Yes’ outcome from the postal survey, I feel a profound sense of relief after the marriage equality legislation finally passed through parliament. For LGBT+ Australians, the strong ‘Yes’ from the nation and subsequent legislation is such a welcome sign of love and acceptance. It’s been a particularly important message for the younger members of our community. For me, the legislation means my partner and I can consider, and pursue, the legal safeguards that marriage offers to a relationship, after more than two decades together.
Since the postal survey was announced, I’ve leaned into the support provided by Telstra’s LGBT+ network Spectrum. With more than 2,000 members in our active enterprise social network, Yammer, and I’ve enjoyed the sense of community we share in that safe place.
With my manager’s support, I’ve also assumed the role of Spectrum Council member, joining a small group of the network’s representatives across Telstra. As a result, I’ve been a part of coordinating and joining a number of local activities and catch ups, and have really benefitted from the opportunity to become more involved in the network during such a tough time for LGBT+ Australians.
Nick, Director of Global Customer and Sales Operations
As an Australian and as someone who identifies as LGBT+ it was a huge moment. We have seen many other countries taking this step and it never felt great it was taking so long to get to this point in Australia. But we have, and I am immensely proud how the community has so publicly supported the LGBT+ community in this debate. You don’t have to go too far back in time to appreciate how far we have come in terms of equality.
One of the great things about working at Telstra is the support system that we have for each other, and you really felt this during the postal vote campaign. The frequent messages from our CEO, Andy Penn, and the Senior Leadership Team that encouraged open and honest discussion brought to life our values. Personally, I was really buoyed by the support I had from my colleagues and the level of interest they had in the survey. It was terrific to see the conversations on Yammer and the availability of support via work/life coaching for our people that may have needed to talk to someone. I am proud to work for a company that not just talks but acts on a higher-purpose to create a better society.