Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull was quick to sign same-sex marriage into Australian law on Friday. Mr. Turnbull wasted no time finalising the legislation after the final signatures were gained following an overwhelming endorsement by Parliament.
Mr. Turnbull made a trip to Government House where Peter Cosgrove, the Governor-General and representative to the Queen, signed the bill into law.
The Governor-General’s final signature makes same-sex marriage officially legal in Australia as of Saturday. Same-sex couples who had been married overseas will now have their marriages recognized under Australian law.
Prime Minister Turnbull said that couples who are engaged will have to give a full month’s notice of their intention to marry, meaning that new gay weddings can begin on the 9th of January.
Mr. Turnbull stated that he thought the signing of the bill was a “historic moment” for Australia, with only four MP’s stating their opposition to the new law.
Mr Turnbull went on to say he was “absolutely pumped” by this decision. After the bill was passed parliament’s public gallery exploded with celebration.
Prime Minister Turnbull’s electorate contains Oxford Street, the de facto capital of Sydney’s gay community which celebrated long into the night after the announcement of the bill passing. Turnbull has been known as a long-time supporter of same-sex marriage, being recorded as the first Prime Minister to attend the Mardi Gras festival.
Mere hours after the bill was signed into law, a Sydney council offered free venues for same-sex marriages over a 100 day period after January 7th. The Mayor stated this was a historic moment for civil right in Australia.
In 2013 the ACT government introduced its own same-sex marriage law which was overturned within a week by Australia’s High Court. As a form of recompense for this action, the ACT Attorney General has announced his government would offer wedding certificates free of charge for any and all of the same-sex couples who had their marriages declared unlawful.
After a postal survey on the issue in November, more than 60% of respondents endorsed the changing of marriage laws to allow same-sex couples to wed. Despite the positive outcome this postal survey has had, many critics pointed out that it was an unnecessary and divisive delay tactic by the Australian government.
As large parts of the Australian conservative Christian community backed the Turnbull government, it has been suggested that Prime Minster Turnbull deliberately avoided taking a strong stance on the issue for fear of losing this support base.
Regardless of the controversy surrounding the campaign to get to this point, Australians are using this time as an opportunity to celebrate the advancement of civil rights in their country.