Marriage equality: Australia votes 'Yes' in postal survey

Marie Harrington
November 15, 2017

Australians have voted in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry in a landmark national survey.

Same-sex marriage will now nearly certainly be legalised in Australia through a change to the Marriage Act.

Same-sex couples hoping to marry will find out if a change to the Marriage Act will be legislated this year when the results are announced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics at 10am Wednesday.

A second private bill, containing more protections for religious protections and conscientious objection, is being pushed by conservative coalition MPs, many of whom campaigned for a "no" vote.

"It is a process that we have to conclude by Christmas if we're going to keep faith with the Australian people", Mr Zimmerman said.

Liberal "Yes" supporter Dean Smith is expected to put forward a bill on same sex marriage today after the Prime Minister dismissed an alternative bill from conservatives.

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The postal survey, which cost $122 million, was an attempt from the Turnbull government to fulfil its election promise for a plebiscite on the social reform.

On Tuesday Turnbull said the government "would not countenance" legalising discrimination against same-sex weddings by commercial service providers and warned a rival conservative bill to do so would have "virtually no prospect" of passing parliament.

"I don't agree with the Prime Minister that this (James Paterson) bill makes activities which are now illegal legal", Nationals Senator Matt Canavan told ABC radio.

The prime minister is urging lawmakers to pass a marriage equality bill before Christmas - a call backed by business leaders including Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. which says it would add A$650 million ($496 million) to the economy in the first year alone.

Labor Senator Penny Wong, who has co-signed Senator Smith's bill, said Senator Paterson's proposal was a "distraction". "I don't think this survey was a vote on expanding the capacity to discriminate in our society". They have flagged the possibility of amendments, potentially cherry-picked from Liberal senator James Paterson's rival bill, which would give wide-ranging exemptions and wind back existing anti-discrimination laws. His bill has support as a "starting point" from many of his colleagues, as well as Labor, the Greens, independent Derryn Hinch and the Nick Xenophon Team.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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