Foreigners who have SSM: "It didn’t change family structures"
THE same-sex marriage postal survey is now on its final lap, and all the arguments have been aired, but there's a group of people in Australia who seem bemused by the whole process - visitors from countries where gay couples can already wed.
News.com.au headed down to the Sydney tourist hub of Circular Quay, in the shadow of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, to see what tourist thought of the debate.
Some were surprised Australia was even having the debate.
"We assumed you already had (gay marriage) because of the easy going nature of the country and because it's so laid-back," said Chris who was stopping off in Sydney for a quick layover between London and Wellington.
"I can't understand why it isn't already in place because the people are very open minded," said Rian from Germany where same-sex marriage was legislated for as recently as last month.
Globally, 24 countries have legalised same sex countries. These include some of the most popular nations for overseas visitors to Australia including the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, France and Germany.
Most of these countries have passed same-sex marriage through a simple parliamentary vote.
Australia's same-sex marriage survey officially closed on 7 November with the result due on 15 November. If the Yes vote prevails, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has said the necessary law could be passed by Christmas.
"We were in Canberra and we were talking to a gay man and he said he wasn't allowed to marry and it was complete surprise," said Gale who was visiting with her husband from the UK.
Academics Sandra and Margaret, from Tennessee and New Jersey respectively, had docked in Sydney from a Pacific cruise.
"I was not surprised it wasn't legal, it took us a long time to recognise same-sex marriage in the United States," said Margaret, recalling the torrid battle to legalisation state side which passed in 2015.
Chris, from New Zealand where same-sex marriage was passed in 2013, was sceptical of the entire survey.
"I think it's a big waste of money, all that money just to ask a question that really isn't going to have a certain outcome."
Trevor from England was also flummoxed as to why there was a vote that had no legal weight.
"If the referendum's not binding, it's not the right way to do it."
But Gale, travelling with Trevor, said the Government could be on rocky ground with public opinion if it ignored the outcome.
All of the visitors news.com.au spoke to said they were barracking for Yes. But Kiwi Chris wasn't sure if that would be the outcome.
"There are so many different cultures and religions (in Australia) you just never know and personally I think it will go to no, but I'd vote yes - I love the idea."
No campaigners have talked at length about consequences seen overseas in countries that have allowed gay couples to wed. Had our victors noticed any changes?
"I've not seen any," Chris from the UK said. "It's same as usual (but) maybe some more happy faces."
"No and it was not going to change anything," said Margaret from New Jersey.
"It didn't change family structures or impinge on them the way that people thought. Marriage is marriage as far as I'm concerned.
"It's a hard battle but it has to be fought."
HOW TO STILL VOTE
If you don't want to risk the post, live in a capital city and really want to have your say, there's another way to vote. You can hand-deliver your completed survey to an ABS drop-off centre. They'll be accepted until 4.30pm on Tuesday, November 7.
• Survey forms must be received at the ABS by 6pm (local time) on November 7 to be included in the count.
• Survey results will be published on November 15.
• More information is available at www.marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au