Australia Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage
The Parliament of Australia passed an historic law that legalizes same-sex marriage, officially becoming the 26th country to recognize this right, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. The law was passed on Thursday, December 7 by an overwhelming majority, after the bill passed both houses of Parliament---first the Senate last week, and now the House of Representatives with a result so clear there was no need for a formal count. It also comes after 61% of Australian people voted for legalization in a public postal survey carried out last month, which had a very high participation rate of 80%.
"Australia has done it. What a day for love, for equality, for respect," declared Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, "This belongs to us all. This is Australia – fair, diverse, loving and filled with respect for every one of us. This has been a great, unifying day in our history."
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that “The public galleries sustained rapturous applause for several minutes and eventually burst into a rendition of I Am, You Are, We Are Australian,” and that “numerous well-known gay and lesbian Australians were present to witness the historic moment, including Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe and actress Magda Szubanski.”
This law undoes the last major piece of discrimination against gay in Australian, the Marriage Act of 2004 which explicitly forbid same-sex unions. It will formally change on Saturday, “allowing same-sex couples to lodge a Notice of Intended Marriage from this weekend,” Attorney-General George Brandis said. The minimum notice period is one month, meaning the first legally recognized same-sex wedding in Australia would have to wait until January 9, according to News.com.