Australian Senate ready to change same-sex marriage law after referendum

By Ed Adamczyk Contact the Author   |  Nov. 15, 2017 at 10:38 AM
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Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Australian legislators said they will debate the wording of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage after voters this week approved changing the law.

Debate in the Senate will begin Thursday on a bill introduced late Wednesday and co-sponsored by both of the country's major parties. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who supports same-sex marriage legalization, said he was committed to changing the law by Christmas.

"The Australian people have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality. They voted yes for fairness, they voted yes for commitment, they voted yes for love," Turnbull said.

Any change in the Marriage Act cannot proceed until the House of Representatives reconvenes for its last two-week session of parliament that starts November 27.

The change in the law comes after 61.6 percent of voting Australians approved it through a mail-in referendum. The Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey reported that 38.4 percent of respondents voted against it. The results were announced on Wednesday.

The question sought a simple yes or no answer to a change in the law on postcards, which were mailed in anonymously.

It passed in each of Australia's states and territories, and 79.5 percent of eligible voters participated.

Urban areas backed changing the law more strongly than other parts of the country. Voters in the cities of Sydney and Melbourne each were 83.7 percent in favor of change. The Australia Capital Territory, which includes Canberra, voted 62 percent in favor.

The legislature has not yet decided how or if they will offer exceptions to individuals or churches reluctant to participate in same-sex marriages.

"If there are amendments, let's see them," said Sen. Dean Smith, who introduced the law on Wednesday evening. "But let's be very clear about this: Australians did not participate in a survey to have one discrimination plank removed, to have other planks of discrimination piled upon them."

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