It was a tough fight that sometimes got ugly, but love has finally won Down Under: Members of the Australian House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted in favor of changing the Marriage Act to allow same-sex marriage. A similar vote was held last week in the Senate.
Cheers rang out from MPs, many of whom embraced, as as the gallery sang “I am, you are, we are Australian."
"What a day for love, for equality, for respect," said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. "Australia has done it."
The measure will officially become law when Governor-General Peter Cosgrove approves the bill, a formality expected to occur in the coming days.
Same-sex couples will then be allowed to register to marry though, like heterosexual couples, they must wait 30 days after registering before a ceremony can take place. Those who have married overseas will now automatically have their marriages recognized in Australia.
Congratulations has poured in from around the world.
“Love prevails once again as loving LGBTQ couples in Australia obtain the hard-fought right to marry and move past the emotional toll of their relationships and families being open to debate," said GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis. "Marriage equality is a historic benchmark, worthy of celebration, as advocates continue the push for full LGBTQ acceptance.”
A controversial national postal survey launched by the government found that 61.6% of Australians supported same-sex marriage. Opponents of the ballot claimed it would stir up homophobic sentiment, and indeed, reports of anti-LGBT harassment and violence reportedly doubled in the period the survey was conducted.