Thursday, December 7, 2017

Australia Gay marriage approved

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Australian Parliament voted on Thursday to allow same-sex marriage across the nation, following a bitter and divisive debate settled by the government polling voters in a much-criticized ballot survey that strongly endorsed change.



The federal Parliament has removed the final area of discrimination against gay and lesbian Australians by giving them the right to marry.

In a historic moment of social reform, the House of Representatives voted just before 6pm Thursday to legalise same-sex marriage, paving the way for weddings in the New Year.

As the vote was announced, the public galleries of Parliament, stacked with people who had spent years fighting for equality, and waited all day for the vote, erupted in cheers and applause. Rainbow flags were unfurled and people sang.

6:15 p.m.

Five lawmakers have registered their opposition to Australia's bill allowing same-sex marriage across the nation.

The bill passed Thursday by a majority that was not challenged, though the five lawmakers' positions opposing the bill were recorded.

The bill changes the definition of marriage from a union between a man and a woman to "a union of two people."

After royal assent and other formalities, the law will likely take effect in about a month.

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5 p.m.

The Australian Parliament has voted to allow same-sex marriage across the nation, following a bitter and divisive debate settled by the government polling voters in a much-criticized ballot survey that strongly endorsed change.

The House of Representatives passed the bill to change the definition of marriage from solely between a man and a man to "a union of two people." The votes were not counted because the majority wasn't questioned.

The Senate passed the same legislation last week 43 votes to 12. After royal assent and other formalities, the law will likely take effect in about a month, with the first weddings expected about a month later.

Amendments meant to safeguard freedoms of speech and religion for gay-marriage opponents were all rejected, though those issues may be considered later.

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3 p.m.

Gay rights advocates have celebrated outside Australia's Parliament House in anticipation of same-sex marriage being legalized within hours.

Scores of men and women joined in singing on Thursday ahead of what is scheduled to be Parliament's final sitting day of the year.

The House of Representatives is widely expected to vote to allow same-sex marriage across the nation.

The Senate passed the same legislation last week 43 votes to 12.

The only potential obstacle to the law passing on Thursday would be if marriage equality opponents managed to amend the legislation. The amended legislation would then have to go back to the Senate for ratification.

Gay marriage was endorsed by 62 percent of Australian voters who responded to a government-commissioned postal ballot last month.