There are just a few days left to vote in Australia’s same-sex marriage survey, but the most heart-warming vote of them all has only just been cast.
Many older voters have been voting against equality in this the national ballot, according to polls.
But one grandfather couldn’t disagree more – and has recorded a campaign advert to tell everyone exactly why he supports same-sex marriage.
104-year-old Alex was married to his wife, Betty, for 45 years, before she died in 2009 after a long and happy marriage.
Now Alex wants his grandson, who is gay, to enjoy the same happiness he had with Betty.
He said: “Having lived through 104 years, you accept people as they are.”
His grandson emailed to ask how his elderly grandfather to see how he would be voting in the survey.
A response quickly came back with the opening line: “Dear Paul, the answer is YES!”
His grandad explained they he “can’t understand what all the fuss and comotion is about, because they’re human beings like ourselves, and should have all the rights and privileges as ourselves.”
Watch the emotional video here:
104 year old Alex voted YES for his grandson Paul.
Pa Alex was married for 45 years, and believes his grandson should have the same right. pic.twitter.com/fGxOnEfTxc
— AU Marriage Equality (@AMEquality) October 30, 2017
However it’s not all good news.
While the ballot looks set to be won by the Yes campaign, it might not lead to the introduction of marriage rights for gay couples.
Even if Australia votes Yes to equal marriage, anti-gay politicians in the country are plotting more than 100 amendments intended to destabilise LGBT equality.
Hardline anti-LGBT MPs within the governing Liberal-National Coalition will not be conceding, even if the public gives a strong backing for equality.
Instead, they will attempt to table a string of amendments to the eventual marriage bill.
The government has indicated that if the plebiscite passes, it would give its backing to a backbench marriage equality bill, such as that proposed by Liberal Senator Dean Smith.
Smith’s bill is modelled on equal marriage legislation in other countries, and bears similarities to the New Zealand and UK same-sex marriage laws.
But a group of hardline conservative politicians are plotting a rebellion – and may provoke a split in the party if they are not granted a sing of concessions.
Anti-LGBT Senator Eric Abetz, a strong opponent of equal marriage and the government’s former Senate leader, this week said he would back amendments seeking ‘freedom to discriminate’ loopholes, which equality activists say would undermine LGBT rights protections.
Speaking to the West Australian, he said: “[The bill] is seriously inadequate, as parents, freedom of speech and religious freedom, along with conscientious objection, all need full protection.”
The group could drown the legislation in amendments.
According to the newspaper, sources say that between 60 and 100 amendments could be filed – which could stall progress on the issue.
The Coalition, led by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, is deeply divided on equal marriage.
The Nationals and a powerful right-wing faction of the Liberals – including prominent members of Turnbull’s Cabinet – are strongly opposed to equal marriage, while centrists and the youth wing of the Liberals are in favour of reform.
The public vote was only called by Turnbull – a lukewarm supporter of equal marriage – as a compromise between the two groups after MPs began openly discussing a leadership challenge or rebellion against him.
However, punting the issue to the public does not mean that the rift has gone away, and the bill is likely to run into extreme difficulties in Parliament.
The government recently lost its one-seat majority in the House of Representatives, which means the voice of the opposition Labor Party, which supports LGBT rights, could be key when the bill moves forward.
Turnbull had previously claimed that same-sex couples could be married by the end of the year if the plebiscite, which concludes in two weeks, is affirmative. Experts consider this unlikely.