Australian Senate Votes In Favor Of Same-Sex Marriage

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A landmark bill legalising same-sex marriage has cleared the Senate without any major changes.

Two weeks after the announcement that 61.6% of those who participated in the unprecedented national postal survey voted in favour of same-sex marriage, the Senate passed the cross-party bill unamended.

While the Dean Smith bill already allows priests and other religious celebrants to refuse to Wednesday same-sex couples on the basis of their faith, a number of senators wanted the protection extended to civil celebrants with a "conscientious objection".

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

Unlike the vast majority of Australians, Burston does get a vote on whether the bill actually becomes law.

Among the opponents of marriage equality is Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz, who took to the floor after several proposed amendments to the bill were voted down with dramatic margins.

"In a world where there are more tensions between people, our country has offered a loving embrace to its own", Senator Smith said. "I certainly am", Senator Smith said in a final speech before the vote.

"You are a normal person and, like every other normal person, you have a need to love ..." "It says to so many Australians, this parliament, this country, accept you for who you are".

On Wednesday the education minister, Simon Birmingham, said Turnbull had demonstrated "very strong leadership" by "showing a pathway through" and delivering marriage equality.

"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.

Various amendments to the bill - including moves to allow civil celebrants to refuse to perform gay weddings - were defeated in the Senate on Tuesday and Wednesday by a combination of Labor, the Greens, some Coalition senators and some crossbenchers.

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"Unfortunately I fear I have been proven true", Senator Canavan said.

Labour Senate leader Penny Wong said it was an historic day for all Australians.