Australia edges closer to same-sex marriage vote

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott leaves the chamber ahead of the final vote on the Marriage Amendment Bill in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra Thursday

Australia edges closer to same-sex marriage vote

Wedding bells are set to ring for same sex couples, with Parliament this afternoon passing the bill to legalise same sex marriage in Australia.

On Monday, the debate on the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 kicked off in the House of Representatives.

"Fair, diverse, loving and filled for respect for everyone", said an effusive Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, as he introduced the bill for a final vote.

Gay rights advocates have celebrated outside Australia's Parliament House in anticipation of same-sex marriage being legalized within hours.

The final step is for the Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, the Queen's representative in Australia, to ratify the law, which will likely take place within days.

"Australians have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality", he had said after the result was announced.

"There's only one thing left to do: Ryan Patrick Bolger, will you marry me?"

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"We must not fail to recognize that there is honest, heartfelt anxiety about the bill's impact on religious freedom", Turnbull said.

The current bill allows churches and religious organizations to boycott gay weddings without violating Australian anti-discrimination laws. "And now it is up to us here in the parliament of Australia to get on with it".

"The government is accountable in question time and so is the opposition so we will all be accountable in question time today as we are every day that parliament sits".

Australians have always been in favor of same-sex marriage, with polling from as long as 10 years ago showing a majority support for legalizing marriage equality.

After a 13 year battle and a hurtful postal survey on the issue, marriage equality is now completely legal in Australia. Liberal Party member Sarah Henderson teared up as she spoke about her friend gay friend John Parker, who died months earlier and was waiting for the Marriage Act to change.

Liberal backbencher Kevin Andrews, who is against same-sex marriage, believes the bill contains very little protection for religion and belief.

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