Same-sex marriage has been legalised in Australia, as Malcolm Turnbull fell short on his pledge to deliver stronger religious protections for faith-based schools and charities, The Australian reports.
In a historic day for gay couples across the nation, the Prime Minister supported three amendments and abstained from voting on four amendments of Liberal MP Dean Smith’s same-sex marriage bill.
A majority of Coalition MPs endorsed the seven amendments aimed at enforcing greater religious freedoms, but all failed to win support in the parliament.
Mr Turnbull, who supported amendments to provide protections for religious charities and marriage celebrants, said legislating same-sex marriage represented a “unifying day” for Australians.
“What a day. What a day for love, for equality, for respect. Australia has done it,” he said.
“Every Australian had their say and they said it’s fair — get on with it. And parliament’s got on with it. And we have voted today for equality, for love. It’s time for more marriages, more commitment, more love, more respect.”
Mr Turnbull, a long-time same-sex marriage supporter, led applause in the House of Representatives, where gay-marriage campaigners and celebrities watched from the public gallery.
The Prime Minister last night said once the bill was granted royal assent by Governor-General Peter Cosgrove today, he expected the first weddings could take place in the second week of January. The new marriage law will take effect from tomorrow.
Following the landmark vote, MPs and senators from all sides of politics embraced on the floor of parliament.
Three Coalition MPs — David Littleproud, Russell Broadbent and Keith Pitt — as well as crossbencher Bob Katter voted against Senator Smith’s bill. At least seven government MPs, including Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott, did not vote.
The passage of the unamended bill will delay further debate on extra religious protections until next year, as part of a review led by former Liberal attorney-general Philip Ruddock, due to report at the end of March.
Some Coalition MPs believe the outcome will divide the nation and encourage gay couples to deliberately test the boundaries of existing law and jeopardise the status of faith-based institutions.
Nation uplifted as same-sex marriage bill passes (The Australian)
Legislation is no substitute for respect (Eureka Street)
Same-sex marriage legalised in Australia as Parliament passes historic law (Sydney Morning Herald)
Passing of Smith bill shows disregard for freedoms (Coalition for Marriage)