Perhaps overshadowed by New Zealand, Saturday night’s other election was in the ACT, where incumbent Chief Minister Andrew Barr secured another four years for his government. The whole thing was a pretty typical affair until Barr kissed his husband on live TV, a groundbreaking moment which resonated with people all over the country.
With Labor in the lead and likely to form a minority government with The Greens in the coming weeks, the win marks the sixth consecutive Labor government in the ACT. Barr and his husband, Anthony Toms, celebrated by walking out to Lady Gaga‘s “The Edge of Glory”, making a huge stride for Little Monster representation on the political scene.
“We’ve had an extraordinary series of challenges thrown at us, as a city and as a community, and we’ve got through it because we’ve worked together,” Barr told an ecstatic crowd.
“We’ve got through it because we’ve applied progressive values to our government decisions and because we’ve applied compassion and we haven’t left people behind.”
After 19 years in government, Labor has won a sixth term #ACTVotes2020 “We've got through it because we've applied progressive values to our government decisions, because we've applied compassion and because we haven't left people behind” @ABarrMLA @SBSNews pic.twitter.com/bPEqZFCx6u
— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) October 17, 2020
Shortly after, he kissed his partner of 20 years, who he was finally able to marry last year.
“We met in this city, been together nearly 21 years, about to have our first wedding anniversary,” Barr said.
“Anthony, I love you.”
While a quick kiss of the opposite-sex kind happens at pretty much all election victories, Barr is the first member of a same-sex couple lead a party to victory in Australia, ever.
You can watch his speech in its entirety here.
Congrats on a good win @ABarrMLA @Canberra_Labor! Here’s the magic ‘I love you, Anthony’ moment from the Chief’s #ACTvotes victory speech – one for the history books. #auspol pic.twitter.com/olL3ZI8Xlo
— Chris Wallace (@c_s_wallace) October 17, 2020
While it’s not the very first time this has happened (Barr has also kissed his partner at previous election victories, ‘cos the man keeps on winning), many Aussies still couldn’t help but appreciate what a rare pleasure it is to see.
One person called it “immensely powerful”, while another called it a “beautiful moment”.
“I really, really like how he feels so comfortable in his skin that he can hug and kiss his partner on national TV,” wrote one person on Twitter.
“Actually had to check that I wasn’t seeing a doctored photo,” said another person.
“Makes me SO happy that the next gen will have these relationships normalised and visible.”
— Troy Simpson (@TroyPSimpson) October 17, 2020
Beautiful moment between Chief Minister Andrew Barr and his husband Anthony Toms at last night's Labor victory celebration.
— Stephen (@TheAviator1992) October 17, 2020
Actually had to check that I wasn’t seeing a doctored photo. Yes that is the winner of the ACT election Andrew Barr celebrating with his partner. Makes me SO happy that the next gen will have these relationships normalised and visible ???????????????????? https://t.co/NWGlICodDE
— Lauren M Young (@Young_LaurenM) October 17, 2020
By contrast, it is still immensely powerful to have Andrew Barr not only acknowledge his husband but kiss him in his victory speech #actvotes
— Ian Whitney (@iancwhitney) October 17, 2020
An openly gay leader celebrating his election win with his husband is both utterly ordinary and game changing for Australia, and its young queer people in particular. Congratulations @ABarrMLA https://t.co/a71XyJFacn
— ɈⱯƧǾȠ ⱤƟṦƮⱭƝŦ (@jrostant) October 17, 2020
For my international followers. Andrew Barr is our first (and only) gay leader of a state or territory. He was elected for a new 4-year term yesterday. I really, really like how he feels so comfortable in his skin that he can hug and kiss his partner on national TV. https://t.co/8BdQ42cMdQ
— ???????? ???? Boomerangℂ???????????????? ???? (@BoomerangChris) October 18, 2020
This is cute: Australia’s first openly gay head of government, the ACT’s Chief Minister Andrew Barr, and his husband and partner of 20 years, Anthony Toms, walking hand-in-hand after winning re-election. https://t.co/vWTeO4OzaI
— Seb Starcevic (@SebStarcevic) October 17, 2020
Of course, having a same-sex partner (and kissing them on live TV) doesn’t automatically make someone a woke bae or whatever.
It’s important not to let these admittedly beautiful moments cloud our judgement of their policy and leadership.
That said, it was still a special milestone, and one which will hopefully become more and more common in future.