Australian Parliament approves same-sex marriage after long national debate

Same-sex marriage campaigners and volunteers cheer as they call on politicians to pass marriage equality legislation during rally outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Gay marriage was endorsed by 62 percent of AustPlayThe Associated Press
WATCH Australian lawmaker proposes during same-sex marriage debate

Marriage equality is now a reality in Australia. Its Parliament voted on Thursday to allow same-sex marriage in the Commonwealth country.

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The House of Representatives passed a bill to change the definition of marriage from solely between a man and a woman to "a union of two people."

"The House of Representatives has passed the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017," tweeted the Australian House of Representatives. "The bill now goes to the Governor-General for Royal Assent."

The Equality Campaign, which had been advocating the change, tweeted, "It's a YES! Simply and fairly, #MarriageEquality is now law! Today our country can be truly proud. We did it together!"

The House was widely expected to approve the historic bill after the Senate approved the same legislation last week, 43 votes to 12.

A majority of Australian voters endorsed marriage equality in a postal ballot last month asking, "Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?" Of those who responded, 62 percent said "yes," and 38 percent said "no."

Members of the gay community and their supporters celebrate the result of a postal survey calling for gay marriage right in Sydney, Australia, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Australians supported gay marriage in a postal survey that ensures Parliament wilThe Associated Press
Members of the gay community and their supporters celebrate the result of a postal survey calling for gay marriage right in Sydney, Australia, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Australians supported gay marriage in a postal survey that ensures Parliament wil

Nearly 8 in 10 eligible voters participated in the survey, according to the government.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who had supported legalization, tweeted support for the measure after its passage.

Gay rights advocates celebrated outside Australia's Parliament House on Thursday before the final result.

"It's an historic day for Australia today, and I think the celebrations around the country when we finally ... achieve marriage equality are going to be immense," Janet Rice, a Greens party senator, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The law will take effect in about a month, according to the AP.

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