ALAIN Thilliez and Don Matheson have two great prospects.
The first is one which the furniture makers see each and every day come wind or weather: the panorama of tilled or mown paddocks in their season, beyond Happy Valley Creek, and of the tree-clad hills of the Myrtleford Plantation above Connelly’s Gully.
The second is one they now hope to realise next year after Australia’s chief statistician, David Kalisch, on November 15 confirmed that a majority of the country’s voters want people of the same sex to be able to marry.
The two men, who have shared their lives since 1984, had expected a positive outcome from the federal government’s $122 million, national, non-binding, non-compulsory postal survey of enrolled voters to change the Marriage Act – which since 2004 has defined lawful marriage as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others.
“I think the vote is going to come in at about 60:40 (in favour of marriage equality),” Don said two days before the results were declared – with 61.6 per cent in favour of change and 38.4pc against in the official tally.
“But then there are the stodgy ones (in federal parliament) – and those old dinosaurs will be wanting to slow (change) right down before Alain and I can marry.
“Alain would like to be married and I would like to do it for him.”
French-born Alain, who grew up the son of a family of bakers in Arras in the Pas de Calais in northern France, would also like the church to bless their marriage.
“I would like it to be as it is in France – the civil marriage and the church blessing,” he said.
“The two components should be separate. But that’s what I would like.”
It may be a stretch for the Anglican Church in Australia quickly to respond to positive, national support for change, but Alain and Don are mindful of the encouraging, formerly reported views of John Parkes, Anglican bishop of Wangaratta, on the question of marriage equality.
Don was a Qantas long-haul flight steward when he met Alain in Sydney 33 years ago.
They shortly afterwards moved to Myrtleford where Don’s family operated Ovens and Kiewa Concrete – now known as Mawsons.
Don also wanted to build a solar-passive house in a place that had been home to him as a child and teenager.
It was a match that worked.
“I think we’re lucky, you know,” Alain said.
“You’ve got to have opposites to work together.
“It’s not always a smooth road – it can be a bumpy road – but you learn to be tolerant.”