As promised by Prime Minister Turnbull the marriage equality Bill has been passed by Parliament before Christmas. Senator Dean Smith’s marriage equality Bill was passed by the House of Representatives at 6:00pm on Thursday evening. It is expected that the Governor General will give the Bill Royal Assent next week. It is expected that the first same sex marriage will occur during the first week of January 2018.
Over the past few weeks Senator Smith’s Bill has been debated in the Parliament for over 55 hours with 57 speeches being made in the Senate and 118 by members of the House of Representatives. The Bill passed through both houses without amendment.
On the final day of debate, there were several proposals for amendments to the act, all of which were been rejected. The final proposal was made by MP Sarah Henderson who sought to allow civil celebrants to refuse to marry same sex couples on the basis of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Penny Wong said of the Australian public, “the grace and decency of our country men and women shone through and pushed our Parliament to do what should be done. We may be their representatives but they have been our leaders.”
The Law Council of Australia urged the House of Representative to pass the Bill without amendments. President of the Law Council Fiona McLeod said that “the Senate had heeded this message and they should be congratulated…we urge the House of Representatives to follow suit and legalise marriage equality in the simplest and most straightforward way possible.”
The Bill was passed Thursday evening at 6:00pm to a roaring cheer from the public gallery which was packed full of people.
By Caroline Counsel and Sarah Damon