Two men in their 80s, believed to be Australia’s oldest gay couple, have said they plan to marry in January but “not with any fuss.”
Above, a 2012 interview with the couple.
John Challis, 89, and Arthur Cheeseman, 85, made their announcement following the news that almost 62% of Australians had voted Yes in a postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage.
— Kylie Minogue (@kylieminogue) November 14, 2017
The Telegraph reports:
At their home in Sydney, Mr Cheeseman and Mr Challis said they plan to marry next year – either at a nearby registry office, or at home with a civil celebrant and a cup of coffee. The couple met in 1967 at an art gallery event after they left at the same time and “just happened to smile at each other”.
“Yes we are [planning to marry],” Mr Cheeseman, a retired pharmacist, told ABC Radio.
“Just very quietly… Very simple. That’s it. I have got a 90th birthday coming up next year. We might combine it with that.”
He added that the vote “is endorsing gay and lesbian people. It gives us a new status, a new place in society. We are the same as everyone else.”
Just woke up to the amazing news that Australia has voted YES to Marriage Equality. Even though we shouldn’t have to ‘vote’ for something that’s part of human rights in today’s world, it’s still incredible news 🏳️🌈 LOVE WINS! #MarriageEquality pic.twitter.com/eppZl2SvBO
— James Andrew (@JAOfficial_) November 15, 2017
The voluntary survey, which had a turnout of almost 80 percent, was opposed by pro- and anti-gay marriage activists, with many voicing concerns about the total cost, estimated around £60 million.
Following the result, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised to allow a free vote of MPs before Christmas. The legislation is supported by a majority of MPs and is expected to pass.
“Australians have shown they are committed to a fair go,” Turnbull said. “They’ve said yes to commitment. They’ve said yes to marriage equality. And they’ve said yes to love. And they’ve said to the parliament ‘get on with it, get this done’.”
On Monday, it was reported that conservatives have launched a “right to discriminate” bill that would allow ministers and celebrants to refuse to preside over same-sex weddings if it went against their beliefs.
Watch a Sydney crowd react to the vote results below.