Australian senate passes same-sex marriage bill

By Daniel Uria  |  Nov. 29, 2017 at 12:00 AM
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Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Australia's Senate passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the country on Wednesday.

The bill passed without amendment by a vote of 43 to 12 and will next be debated by Australia's House of Representatives next week.

"This debate has been good for the soul of the country," Senator Dean Smith, who authored the bill, said. "It has been good for the soul of this chamber and it will be good for the souls of LGBTI children throughout our great country."

The vote came two weeks after nearly 62 percent of Australians that participated in a voluntary mail-in survey voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.

Senators spent five days debating the bill, during which some raised concerns about religious protections and proposed amendments to the bill.

Proposed amendments included creating two definitions of marriage and extending civil celebrants the same right as ministers to refuse to marry a same-sex couple based on religious beliefs.

All amendments to the bill were ultimately defeated by the cross-party group.

The House will have the opportunity to discuss adding amendments to the bill when Members of Parliament return to Canberra to vote next week.

If the House passes an amended version of the bill it would have to return to the Senate.

A majority of House MPs are expected to vote in favor of the bill and Senate Labor leader Penny Wong encouraged them to follow the Senate's lead.

"Today we stand on the cusp of a remarkable achievement and an historic event, and we pause briefly to reflect, just for a moment, on what we are a part of," Wong said.

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