Countdown until the SSM vote result: a timeline of what will happen
Here's a play-by-by of what to expect.
You probably already know that the same-sex marriage postal vote result will be announced at 10am (AEDT), but how exactly will that all go down? Here's everything to know in between.
An hour before the results announcement, the doors will open to Yes campaign events in capital cities across the east coast including Sydney and Melbourne. If you’re in Brisbane, events begin at 8am local time.
More details can be found at the Equality Campaign website. FYI, if you’re looking for a public No event, good luck with that one. The campaign says it isn’t holding any.
The man with the golden envelope, containing the final tally, will be Australian Statistician David W. Kalisch. Ahead of the public announcement, Mr. Kalisch will inform Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, as well as a select number of representatives from both the Yes and No camps.
A poll in The Australian on Tuesday, the last before results day, showed the Yes vote on 63 per cent, a figure that has edged up as the campaign has continued. Yes voters (like us!) will be hoping the polls are accurate, and not some Brexit-style aberration.
The big announcement. Live from the glamorous Australian Bureau of Statistics in Canberra, Mr Kalisch will reveal the result. As well as the straight Yes and No numbers, he'll also detail the results for each age group, state and federal electorate. If it’s a Yes, this last bit will be key for wavering MPs, some of whom could decide to follow their electorate rather than the national vote. Nova (that's us!) will go live the second the results are released.
If it's a yes...
*Cue a lot of celebrating and a fair few wedding proposals*
At around 5pm, the giant rainbow flag, which flutters above Taylor Square in the heart of Sydney’s LGBTI neighbourhood of Darlinghurst, will be raised to mark the result. But there’s no time for hangovers because, even with a Yes vote, the law isn’t legalised.
Then, on Thursday...
If it’s a Yes, it’s possible that two competing same-sex marriage bills could be tabled in the Senate. Last month, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he was hopeful marriage equality would be legal “by Christmas”. Whether that happens will depend on what shape a new law will take. The crucial sticking point is who should be exempt from officiating or providing services for same-sex weddings.
Labor, the Greens and many in the Coalition are backing a bill from Liberal Senator Dean Smith that will exempt religious ministers and celebrants as well as religious organisations from being involved in weddings.
A rival bill, by fellow Liberal Senator James Paterson, is backed by the conservative wing of the Liberals and Nationals and extends those opt-outs to anyone with a business who has a “conscientious” objections to same-sex marriage and adds a section on schooling. Registrars could even refuse to issue marriage certificates to gay couples under the proposal. Yes campaigners are dead-set against this second bill saying it will roll back Australia’s anti-discrimination laws and could allow shops to put up signs saying “no gays”.