NEIL Car and Terry Cass may have been engaged for nine years, but after this week’s same-sex marriage debate in federal parliament, they say they finally feel engaged.
On Thursday evening, after four days of debate, politicians in the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass legislation to change the Marriage Act.
The change means Australia is the 26th country to legalise same-sex marriage.
From Saturday couples can lodge a notice to marry, meaning there could be weddings from as early as January 9, 2018.
Neil and Terry became a couple 14 years ago and say they always knew they were meant to be together.
But, when Neil proposed during a romantic weekend away nine years ago Terry said they knew the fight to legally marry in Australia would be a long one.
“He popped the question and told me I was the only person he wanted to be with,” Terry said.
They have been closely watching the same-sex marriage debate during the recent postal survey and say there was a lot of negativity from some people.
He popped the question and told me I was the only person he wanted to be with.Terry Cass
“It felt like the government put us all into a pit and just said ‘fight it out’,” Terry said.
“It really gave the no camp the chance to be horrible.”
But on Thursday, the Bathurst couple were among many people across Australia to celebrate the historic legislation being passed.
“I haven’t stopped smiling since,” Terry said. “Neil wants a big fat Greek wedding. His family have all been so supportive.”
Terry’s parents, Carol and Bing Randell have also supported their son’s relationship and have marched with the marriage equality float in the Sydney Mardi Gras for the past nine years.
Terry said the change to the Marriage Act will be a huge benefit for LGBTI people in Australia.
“[It] must feel awesome, the acceptance and knowing that your fellow Australians are okay with who we love and want to marry must feel like a weight lifted off their shoulders,” he said.
While Terry and Neil could marry in as little as a month, they have decided to wait until November when they will be celebrating their 15th anniversary.
“I just really want to thank the electorate of Calare where more than 60 per cent voted yes [in the survey],” Terry said.