'Country people should not be underestimated'
WHEN ERIC Hofmeister was leaving Warwick after marrying his husband Luke Murray at Leslie Dam, he was so taken aback by a moment of kindness and acceptance for his same-sex relationship he burst into tears.
He had stopped at a petrol station and looked for the copy of the Daily News that documented their special day.
Eric said the man behind the counter asked, 'You're not who I think you are?'
After saying yes, the man congratulated Eric whole-heartedly, saying it was a great wedding.
Next thing Eric knew, there was an elderly man behind him who put his hand on Eric's shoulder and said something completely unexpected.
"Well done,” the man said. "Well done.”
"I got into the car and burst into tears because I thought crap these people are awesome,” Eric said.
This week the Maranoa electorate returned a majority no vote of 56.1% in the same-sex marriage survey.
Surprised by the result, Eric said the result did not match the positivity they were met with in Warwick.
"In fact the people of Warwick have shocked us completely with how kind and supportive the community has been,” he said.
"We were just blown away with the level of strangers you think may not be 100% on board but they were and it was an amazing thing to see.”
Eric and Luke were married in September this year in front of 150 guests, with plenty rustic decorations and Eric making a grand entrance on a horse.
The response the couple received as they were leaving Warwick topped off a series of warm encounters.
Eric said Adam and Caroline at Lake Leslie Tourist Park were fantastic, while Karyn at Story Book Cakes was shocked the couple asked if she minded preparing the cake for their special day.
"She said I'd be delighted, I'm honoured to be looking after you guys you shouldn't have to ask a question like that,” he said.
Australia voting yes for same-sex marriage was an emotional and relieving milestone for Eric.
He said it had been an exhausting conversation spanning over years and he now hopes Australia can move forward.
Alongside his husband Luke, they are making giant strides in their own relationship.
Eric said the pair are building their first home together and are excited to start their own family as they are looking into becoming foster parents.
"As the law states the foster care system doesn't consider marriage as an importance but for our children to look at us and see that we are as equal as every other married couple,” he said.
"We have had our wedding and we had it witnessed by our family and friends and all that's left now is the legalities.
"Now we can get our certificate like every other Australian.”
Eric said since his visit to Warwick, he has said nothing but great things to say about the community.
"Country people should not be underestimated, they really, from where we seem to go, country people seem to warm to us quite well and always give people a chance,” he said.