Tara and Sarah Whitchelo live in Australia, met in Australia, work in Australia and fell in love in Australia. But they could not marry there.

Eighteen months after their Tauranga wedding, change is finally afoot in the country where they made a home as wife and wife.

On Tuesday the results of Australia's A$122 million postal survey on whether same-sex couples should have the right to marry were revealed.

The Whitchelos, both 27, nervously watched the results announcement together in their Seaford, Victoria home.


From 12.7 million votes, a majority - 61.6 per cent - were in favour of allowing same-sex marriages.

"It was a day full of tears, laughter, lots of hugs and kisses and pure joy once we heard the vote was 'yes'," Sarah said.

They celebrated with dinner then watched their wedding video.

Tara said it was emotional to realise that "the majority of Australians do support us" though it had not felt that way in the past.

She said the period the survey was out had been challenging.

"It felt like the whole of Australia was voting on the legitimacy of your relationship and whether our love is worth the same as everyone else's."

Sarah, born in Tauranga, said marriage was important to them and they had not wanted to wait, so married in her hometown.

Sarah remembered how the feeling of walking happily hand-in-hand with her new wife in New Zealand disappeared when they got off the plane in Australia.

"Everything changed. We felt like people looked at us differently when if we were holding hands in public, which made us second guess whether to do so."

When Sarah (nee Cooke) tried to change her surname in Australia after the wedding the Government would not recognise the marriage certificate. She had to change her name by deed poll in New Zealand.

Same-sex marriage in Australia

- Postal survey: 61.1 per cent yes, 38.4 per cent no
- Next step is to debate private member's bill in Parliament
- PM Malcolm Turnbull pushing for a vote before Christmas

New Zealand
- MPs voted 77 to 44 in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in April 2013
- Became law in August 2013

Sarah and Tara on their wedding day at Old Forest School. Photo/Courtney Horwood
Sarah and Tara on their wedding day at Old Forest School. Photo/Courtney Horwood