Senate passes same-sex marriage bill

As early as 2 weeks after the majority "Yes" result of the same-sex postal survey, supporters of marriage equality are one step closer to victory after a bill passes in the senate.

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same-sex marriage Australia
Sydney/Australia -18/10/2017: Rainbow flag of LGTB movement on Oxford street in Sydney in support of family law change to allow same sex marriages. Photo: Katharina13, Bigstock

Yesterday marks another significant victory for the Australian gay community as the bill for same-sex marriage passes in The Australian Senate with 43 votes for and 12 against.

Earlier this month the results of the same-sex marriage postal survey came in with 61.6% of Australians declaring they think the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Since that result was announced Australians on both sides of the debate have watched and waited to see what official action takes place. As early as 2 weeks later an unamended bill to allow same-sex marriage has been passed in the senate and now only has to pass in the House of Representatives.

It has been predicted that the bill will face little opposition in the House of Representatives and go on to become law before Christmas. This would fulfil the Turnbull government’s promise to act in the event of a “Yes” response to the postal survey and implement the highly demanded social reform.

With the law liable to change as early as next week, supporters of same-sex marriage are celebrating what looks like a successful end to a hard fought campaign.

The bill was passed despite a heavy conservative effort to allow objectors to same-sex marriage to deny services to gay couples. This push was to protect bakers, florists, musicians and other wedding related service providers from anti-discrimination laws should they refuse to serve gay couples based on their religious principles.

The only exemption that was allowed was for “religious marriage celebrants” such as priests who could not reconcile their beliefs with same-sex marriage.

There was also a conservative attempt to create two definitions of marriage and to allow parents to remove children from schools because of same-sex education. Both of these amendments were rejected.

The conservative opposition was thoroughly defeated by a cross party effort to implement same-sex marriage which included labor, greens and some liberal senators as well as independents.

The two day debate in the senate saw emotions run high as many senators were brought to tears while pushing for marriage equality.

This development has quietened fears that the non-binding nature of the postal survey result was a placating measure that would not advance the cause of same-sex marriage.

If the bill is passed in the House of Representatives then Australia will become the 26th nation to legalise same-sex marriage and it is likely to become part of the legacy of the Turnbull government.