THE bill to legalise same-sex marriage has passed the Senate today without any major changes.
Applause filled the chamber after the Senate passed the bill with 43 members in favour and 12 against. The decision means it will go to the House of Representatives next week for a final vote. Sixteen senators were either missing from the chamber during the vote or decided to abstain.
Senators embraced on the floor of the chamber in an emotional scene after the bill was passed. In a speech before the vote Liberal Senator Dean Smith revealed the death of Tori Johnson in the Sydney Siege had influenced his support for same-sex marriage. “Tori lost his life in the Lindt terrorist siege. He was brave, he was courageous and he had a partner named Thomas,” Mr Smith said. “I thought of their loss and it changed me. I realised that people with real lives deserve their love to be blessed and affirmed by the institution of marriage if they so choose.” Mr Smith said the debate had brought out the intellect, wisdom, judgment and compassion of the Senate.
While Mr Brandis said he did not support holding a plebiscite initially he was happy about what it had achieved. “I am so glad it happened this way. I am so glad we involved every man and woman in Australia in this historic decision. I am delighted the result was an overwhelming Yes. “We should rejoice in what the Australian people have achieved this year.”
CHANGES REJECTED After supporting technical tweaks proposed by the government, Labor and the Greens held to their promise to oppose other amendments. Today One Nation and Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm wanted amendments that covered celebrants. Mr Leyonhjelm also wanted to give businesses the right to refuse to service same-sex weddings but these were not supported. Changes from the Greens were also rejected. It wanted to include a provision to ensure state and territory anti-discrimination laws would be limited, as well as make it harder for civil celebrants to refuse to marry same-sex couples. The vote today followed the rejection of other changes proposed yesterday.