AUSTRALIA’S modern family
POLITICIANS from all parties — including both “Yes’’ and “No’’ campaigners — united in an emotional, tear-soaked vote yesterday to deliver same-sex marriage into law.
The historic moment on the floor of Parliament saw many MPs who were opposed to same-sex marriage embrace the result of last month’s national marriage survey to agree to the law that formally recognises the new modern Australian family. With activists including Olympic legend Ian Thorpe and actor Magda Szubanski cheering and singing from the gallery, MPs hugged and kissed to mark the passage of the law.
A triumphant Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: “What a day for love, for equality, for respect. Australia has done it.” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the nation should now unite and decare: “We are simply Australians one and all.”
Only four lower house MPs voted against the bill while staunch supporters of traditional marriage Treasurer Scott Morrison and former PM Tony Abbott effectively abstained by leaving the chamber before the final vote.
Same-sex couples can lodge a notice of intended marriage from tomorrow and will be able to tie the knot from January 9.
IT was “a day for love”, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared as same-sex marriage became law in Australia in a historic sitting of the federal Parliament.
Gay marriage was overwhelmingly supported by Liberal, Labor and the Greens, with only a handful of politicians abstaining or voting no to the law backed by 61.6 per cent of Australians, ending months of campaigning and debate over the issue.
“What a day, what a day for love, for equality, for respect,” Mr Turnbull said.
“It is a great moment in our history, a great moment in our political history. It is time for more marriages, more equality, more love.”
Marriage equality advocates and celebrities, including Olympic hero Ian Thorpe and comedian Magda Szubanski, packed the public galleries in Parliament, singing “We are Australian” and waving rainbow flags, to celebrate the passage of the legislation after two weeks of debate in the Senate and lower house.
Three months after the start of the postal survey, just four MPs — independent Bob Katter, Liberal Russell Broadbent and Nationals Keith Pitt and David Littleproud — voted no.
Treasurer Scott Morrison, former prime minister Tony Abbott, assistant ministers Michael Sukkar and Alex Hawke, Liberal MPs Andrew Hastie, Kevin Andrews, Rick Wilson and National MP George Christensen were among the politicians who abstained from the vote.
Several amendments to add stronger protections for marriage celebrants and charities were voted down, despite Mr Turnbull backing a number of the proposals, as were changes suggested by the Greens.
Attorney-General George Brandis said under the changes to the Marriage Act, religious ministers will be able to refuse to preside over samesex marriages.
The first official gay marriage can now take place from January 9, after the requisite one months’ notice to wed is given.
Same-sex marriage campaigners’
loud cheers after the vote in the public gallery echoed throughout the corridors of Parliament, with emotional Labor politicians Penny Wong, Tanya Plibersek, Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten embracing each other and celebrating with Liberals politicians Trent Zimmerman, Trevor Evans, Tim Wilson and Warren Entsch, who considered crossing the floor to make the vote a reality.
Mr Abbott’s sister, Sydney City councillor Christine Forster, was among those celebrating in Canberra, and is looking forward to her wedding to her fiancee Virginia Edwards in the new year. Her brother is attending.
“It’s about time the politicians reflected the voice of the people, let’s see them write it into law now,” she said.
Mr Abbott, whose own amendment failed to pass, criticised Mr Turnbull and Mr Shorten for failing to include stronger religious protections within the law.
“A promise was made by the leaders of this Parliament and the promise has not adequately been delivered upon and that is why this Parliament is now being called upon to deal with this on the run, as it were, because the promises that were made from the top were not adequately delivered upon,” he said.
Szubanski, an outspoken same-sex marriage campaigner, said the vote had left her “a little bit delirious, it is extraordinary”.
“What has been amazing has been the constant endorsement of LGBTQI people, first of all that extraordinary vote, then the Senate 4-1 in our favour, then, I could see when I watched all of those people moved to the Yes side of the House, I thought Canberra was going to tip over,” she said.
I certainly don’t pretend to be an overnight convert supporting samesex marriage, but I am pledged to respect and to facilitate verdict of the Australian the people ... There should be a clear distinction between marriage as understood by the Church the and marriage as recognised by state. On that basis, I am looking forward to attending sister Christine the marriage of my to her partner Virginia sometime early in the new year. Tony Abbott
The message today to every gay person in this nation is clear: we love you and we respect you. Your relationship is recognised by the and Commonwealth as being as legitimate belong. honourable as anyone else’s. You (above) Malcolm Turnbull
Liberal MP Warren Entsch hugs Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman watches on as Warren Entsch embraces Labor’s Linda Burney, and (left) the deciding vote.