Marriage laws pass

December 08, 2017

Liberal Member for North Sydney Trent Zimmerman and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull celebrate the passing of the Marriage Amendment Bill in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: AAP

Same-sex couples will be allowed to marry in Australia after new laws cleared parliament.

Only four MPs in the lower house voted against a private bill yesterday, just more than a week after it was agreed to by the Senate.

It went through unchanged, despite a push from conservative politicians for additional exemptions — including for religious organisations, civil celebrants and Department of Defence chaplains.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told parliament, just after a round of applause across the chamber and in the public gallery, the legal change belonged to all Australians.

‘‘What a day! What a day for love, for equality, for respect. Australia has done it,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s time for more marriages, more commitment, more love, more respect.’’

Labor leader Bill Shorten said the new law spoke for a modern Australia, ‘‘inclusive and fair’’.

‘‘When this law is passed, we should declare we are no longer a nation of people who voted no, or people who voted yes — we are simply Australians one and all,’’ he said.

Both major parties had given their members a free vote on the issue.

More than 120 MPs spoke during nearly 24 hours of debate on the bill, which was sponsored by gay Liberal senator Dean Smith and backed by colleagues Warren Entsch, Trent Zimmerman, Tim Wilson and Trevor Evans.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott tried to effectively kill off the legislation with an amendment that would stop its progress, but failed.

The same-sex marriage legislation will become law as soon as it is granted royal assent by the Governor-General.


1961: Australia introduces its first Marriage Act, which does not include a formal definition of marriage.

2004: Marriage Act is amended to define marriage as a union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, and bans the recognition of overseas same-sex unions.

2004-15: About 20 attempts are made to introduce laws to legalise same-sex marriage to no avail.

2015: Coalition government commits to a national plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

2016: Senate rejects government’s plebiscite plan.

August 2017: Senate knocks back plebiscite proposal again. Coalition government pursues a national voluntary postal survey instead, with ballot papers sent out the following month.

November 2017: 61.6 per cent of eligible Australians vote in favour of changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry.

December 2017: Same-sex couples will be allowed to marry in Australia after new laws clear parliament.

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