Australia becomes 26th country to legalize same-sex marriage

By Sara Shayanian  |  Dec. 7, 2017 at 8:03 AM
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Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Austraila's House of Representatives voted to legalize same-sex marriage Thursday, making the country the 26th to do so.

A majority of MPs voted in favor of the change, which comes 13 years after the Marriage Act was changed to explicitly forbid same-sex unions.

The law will formally change on Saturday, meaning same-sex couples can give a Notice of Intended Marriage by this weekend. Because the minimum notice period is one month, couples could look to get married as early as Jan. 9.

Only four parliament members voted against the measure.

"Gay means beautiful, light, attractive, ethereal ... they took the word gay off us and now they are taking the word marriage off us," MP Bob Katter said before the vote.

Other parliament members called the vote "a great win" for Australians.

About 62 percent of Australians voted 'yes' in a survey to legalize gay marriage last month.

"They won twice on the 15th of November and they have won twice in the House of Representatives and with the outcome of legislation today," lawmaker Dean Smith said.

"This is a great win for Australian values. The survey said a lot about people's attitudes to same-sex marriage, it said a lot about their attitudes about Australian values and how they should be applied in a contemporary way."

After the vote, a rainbow flag was unveiled as parliament members cheered and sang I am Australian.

"What a day for love, for equality, for respect. Australia has done it," Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said.

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