‘What a day!’ – Same-sex marriage bill passes in House of Representatives

Federal MPs voted moments ago to allow same-sex couples to legally marry in Australia.

“What a day,” The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull said as members of the house rose in applause and cheering was heard from the public gallery.

“What a day for love, for quality, for respect! Australia has done it."

"The Parliament has got on with it and we have voted today for a equality, for love, it is time for more marriages, more commitment, more love, more respect, and we respect every Australian who was voted, those who voted yes, and those who voted no, this belongs to us all, this is Australia!"

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the result would bring the country together.

“We should declare that we are no longer a nation of people who voted no. Or people who voted yes. We are simply Australians one and all. And I said to LGBTIQ Australians in particular, you have given us a gift. This Parliament, when we passed the marriage equality law, is not a gift from us to LGBTIQ Australians,equality is never a gift to be given. Equality isn't in our legal birthright of every Australian and this equality is long overdue."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the House of Representatives after the vote to legislate same-sex marriage. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the House of Representatives after the vote to legislate same-sex marriage. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Attorney-General George Brandis had some important information for people wanting to get married.

"The right to marry in Australia will no longer be determined by sex or gender.  Marriage will now be defined in the Marriage Act 1961 as the 'union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life'. Same-sex couples now have the same rights under the Marriage Act as all other couples," Senator Brandis said.

"These historic reforms will commence on Saturday 9 December 2017. As from Saturday, same-sex couples will be able to lodge a Notice of Intended Marriage to commence the one month minimum notice period required before the solemnisation of marriages under the Marriage Act."

HUNTER POLITICIANS SPEAK BEFORE THE HISTORIC MOMENT

The bill passed the Senate last week, 43 votes to 12, after 61.6 per cent of Australians voted “yes” in the voluntary postal survey that asked whether the law should be changed to allow same-sex marriage. With parliament on recess for the year at the end of this week, it was the final chance for the House of Representatives to pass the bill before Christmas – as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised before the results were announced.

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The Newcastle, Shortland, Hunter and Paterson electorates each recorded a higher “yes” vote than the state and national average.

Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon said “the sense of history has been palpable in the parliament this week”. 

Shortland MP Pat Conroy spoke on the issue in parliament on Tuesday evening and labelled the survey a waste of money.

“I am so relieved that, hopefully, by the end of this week we will have marriage equality in this country,” he said. 

Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon told Fairfax Media that “an overwhelming majority of MPs want it done as quickly as possible” and that he had “no doubt” the bill would pass this week.

Paterson MP Meryl Swanson said the passage of the bill through the Senate was “an historic milestone”.

“Now it is up to the House of Representatives to take the final step – let’s get this done,” she said.

“The Marriage Equality bill has never been about political correctness, or removing the right of parents to control what their children learn at school. This bill has been about equality. Marriage equality. The people have spoken – love has won.”