Aus­tralia le­gal­izes same-sex mar­riage

Par­lia­ment votes for le­gal­iza­tion, end­ing decades of re­sis­tance

The Dallas Morning News - - Front Page -

Aus­tralia’s Par­lia­ment votes to le­gal­ize same­sex mar­riage af­ter years of re­sis­tance.

SYDNEY — Aus­tralia’s Par­lia­ment voted over­whelm­ingly Thurs­day to le­gal­ize same-sex mar­riage, over­com­ing years of con­ser­va­tive re­sis­tance to en­act change that the pub­lic had made clear that it wanted.

The fi­nal ap­proval in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, with just four votes against the bill, came three weeks af­ter a na­tional ref­er­en­dum showed strong pub­lic sup­port for same-sex mar­riage. The Sen­ate passed the leg­is­la­tion last week.

“This be­longs to us all,” Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull said Thurs­day. “This is Aus­tralia: fair, di­verse, lov­ing and filled with re­spect. For ev­ery one of us this is a great day.”

On Fri­day, Turn­bull traveled to Gov­ern­ment House, where Gover­nor-gen­eral Peter Cos­grove signed the bill into law on be­half of Queen El­iz­a­beth II, Aus­tralia’s con­sti­tu­tional head of state.

Cos­grove’s sig­na­ture makes gay mar­riage le­gal in Aus­tralia be­gin­ning Satur­day, when same-sex cou­ples who wed over­seas will be rec­og­nized as mar­ried cou­ples.

En­gaged cou­ples will need to give a calendar-month no­tice of an in­ten­tion to marry, mak­ing gay wed­dings le­gal on Jan. 9, Turn­bull said.

The new law ex­pands on ear­lier leg­is­la­tion that pro­vided equal­ity to same-sex cou­ples in ar­eas like gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits, em­ploy­ment and taxes, and it changes the def­i­ni­tion of mar­riage from “the union of a man and a wo­man” to “the union of two peo­ple.”

Gay rights ad­vo­cates praised the land­mark vote.

“It is a huge af­fir­ma­tion of the dig­nity of gay peo­ple in yet another coun­try,” said Evan Wolf­son, founder of Free­dom to Marry, which led the U.S. cam­paign for mar­riage equal­ity.

A hand­ful of law­mak­ers tried to add amend­ments that they said were meant to safe­guard reli­gious free­doms for op­po­nents of same-sex mar­riage, but their ef­forts failed. Turn­bull noted that noth­ing in the leg­is­la­tion re­quires min­is­ters or other cel­e­brants to over­see wed­dings of gay cou­ples or threat­ens the char­ity sta­tus of reli­gious groups that op­pose same-sex mar­riage, two con­cerns the law­mak­ers had raised.

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