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May 17, 2021

Gay marriage party to ramp up next week

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The Senate is debating amendments to the marriage equality bill. file pic)
The Senate is debating amendments to the marriage equality bill. file pic)

Equality campaigners are expected to keep the champagne on ice following the passage of a landmark bill to legalise same sex marriage in the Senate.

Liberal Dean Smith’s largely unamended private members bill was passed on Wednesday with senators voting 43-12 in favour of changing the Marriage Act.

Australian Marriage Equality spokesman Alex Greenwich was expecting low-key celebrations on Wednesday night after the bill cleared its first hurdle.

But he predicts the festivities will really get started next week once the bill passes the lower house.

Debate in the House of Representatives is likely to start on Monday, and a vote is likely before the end of the week.

If any amendments are added, the bill will have to return to the Senate for approval before it goes to the Governor-General for Royal Assent.

Senators were overcome with emotion on Wednesday as the bill sailed through the upper house.

“In a world where there are more tensions between people, our country has offered a loving embrace to its own,” Senator Smith said.

“A few brief moments of joy is what our country has ached for because we know it will result in a lifetime of joy for so many others.”

Labor Senate leader Penny Wong said the bill’s passage was a historic moment.

“It says to so many Australians, this parliament, this country, accepts you for who you are,” she said.

“Your love is not lesser, and nor are you. It says you’re one of us.”

Attorney-General George Brandis, who made a passionate speech during the debate, said it was a proud moment for democracy.

“We should rejoice in what the Australian people have achieved this year,” he said.


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