Like many Australians, Melissa Chomel wants to marry the person she loves.
8 weeks, 1 question: Australia’s same sex marriage survey
She’s been looking at wedding dresses online for months, picked a wedding car, but can’t decide between a church service or beach ceremony.
But there’s no point in making firm plans yet, because she doesn’t know if the government will allow her to marry.
You see, Melissa is in love with her girlfriend Ebony.
Since September, Australians have been voting in a divisive postal survey to decide whether or not same-sex couples should be allowed to wed.
It’s a question which has already been answered “yes” in the majority of Western countries, without the need for a national survey on the issue.
Melissa and Ebony Drohan live in Bairnsdale, a small country town in Victoria, Australia, where they work in a bakery together. Between them, they have two children from previous relationships and want their family to be formally recognized.
“When the vote was first announced I was angry. Why does Australia have to decide whether or not I should have the right to get married?” Melissa told CNN.
Since voting started in September, Melissa and Ebony have shared their story with CNN. Here’s how Australia’s vote on marriage equality looked through their eyes.
When the idea of a postal survey on same sex marriage was first announced, political observers and LGBT advocates initially dismissed it as a joke.
Why would you hold a national, non-compulsory survey, which would not bind politicians to follow the result, on an issue which numerous polls had showed a majority of Australians were in support of?
Melissa: I just thought what a waste of money. I just wish the politicians could get it together and put the bill through without having to put it to a non-compulsory vote that is costing tax payers millions of dollars (it’s around $122 million or US$93 million) and subjecting Ebony, myself and all LGBT people to unnecessary exposure to bigotry.
Ebony: I was kind of happy in a way, that at least something’s being done, and hoping that this would move us closer to being able to get married.
Despite a court challenge to stop it, the postal survey went ahead as planned. Blank ballot papers were mailed across Australia on September 12 with the instruction to return them by November 7.