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Tears as same-sex marriage bill easily clears the Senate

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A flurry of tears and applause has greeted the Senate passage of a landmark bill legalising same-sex marriage.

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Liberal Dean Smith’s largely unamended private bill sailed through the upper house today with senators voting 43-12 in favour of changing the Marriage Act.

“In a world where there are more tensions between people, our country has offered a loving embrace to its own,” an emotional Smith said ahead of the vote.

“A few brief moments of joy is what our country has ached for because we know it will result in a lifetime of joy for so many others.”

Labor Senate leader Penny Wong said the bill’s passage was a historic moment.

“It says to so many Australians, this parliament, this country, accepts you for who you are,” she said.

“Your love is not lesser, and nor are you. It says you’re one of us.”

Attorney-General George Brandis, who made a passionate speech during the debate, said it was a proud moment for democracy.

“We should rejoice in what the Australian people have achieved this year,” he said.

The bill now goes to the lower house for a debate likely to start on Monday, and a vote before the end of the week.

If any amendments are added in the House of Representatives, the bill will have to return to the Senate for approval.

Labor senator Louise Pratt praised the activist movement which had led to legislative change.

“Our relationships have existed for a long time. Our families have existed for a long time. Our love is true. Our children are cherished. Our families are precious. It is time that we were equal,” Pratt said.

Cabinet minister Matt Canavan said he could not support a bill which compromised human rights.

“I think the failure to fully protect celebrants who have a conscientious or may have a conscientious or non-religious objection to solemnising a same-sex marriage is a missed opportunity for our parliament to unify,” he said.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said discriminatory laws had been sent to the dustbin of history.

“I am so proud of this parliament and today I am so proud of my country,” he said.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson abstained from the final vote, as did Liberal James McGrath and Nationals Brigid McKenzie.

Earlier, two Nationals MPs accused Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of ignoring conservatives during the debate.

“I think, in my view, there’s been a complete lack of leadership,” Western Victorian MP Andrew Broad said.

Queensland backbencher George Christensen agreed with his colleague.

“A true leader would have sought to capture the will of the people and protect freedoms, not this hands-off approach,” he posted on social media.

– AAP

 

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