Marriage equality heads to the Senate
Published: 15 November 2017
Bill to be raised today following resounding “Yes” result
Senators from the Greens, Labor and the crossbench cut a rainbow cake after the announcement
Image © 2017 AP Photo/Luca Bruno
Malcolm Turnbull wants federal parliament to approve same-sex marriage laws before Christmas after Australians delivered their "unequivocal" approval in a voluntary survey.
A cross-party group of senators - led by Liberal Dean Smith and supported by senior Labor figure Penny Wong, amongst others - will introduce a private bill to the upper house this afternoon.
But it is likely to be at least three weeks before same-sex marriage becomes law.
"It is our job now to get on with it, and get this done," the Prime Minister told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday, shortly after the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced a 61.6 per cent 'yes' vote.
7.8 million of the 12.7 million Australians who voted backed same-sex marriage, with a clear majority in all states and territories.
"I say to all Australians, whatever your views on this issue may be, we must respect the voice of the people."
"We asked them for their opinion and they have given it to us. It is unequivocal, it is overwhelming."
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten described the result as a "fabulous day to be an Australian".
"Today we celebrate, tomorrow we legislate," the opposition leader screamed to a crowd of thousands gathered to hear the result of the same-sex marriage survey in Melbourne on Wednesday.
"It may have been 61 per cent who voted 'yes' in the survey, but I want to say to all LGBTIQ Australians you are 100 per cent loved, 100 per cent valued.
"And after the next two weeks of parliament, 100 per cent able to marry the person that you love."
Debate on Senator Smith’s bill will start on Thursday morning, the Senate's usual time for considering private bills, taking precedence over all general business.
Debate will resume when both houses return to sit again on November 27, with the bill again taking precedence in the Senate, and Senators able to propose amendments.
"There's been a long road and there's still further fights down the track," Senator Wong told reporters in Canberra.
The Senate wants a final bill to pass by Thursday November 30, sending it to the House of Representatives for approval.
The lower house could begin debating the bill by Monday December 4, with MPs then able to propose amendments.
Once the bill and all amendments clear both houses of Parliament, it requires the governor-general to give it royal assent.
Senior government ministers have labelled the Smith bill a good "starting point" for parliament's consideration.
Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm is planning a number of amendments.
"We have to recognise that there are some people who are conscientiously opposed to same-sex marriage," he told reporters.
"We do not want a dictatorship of the majority in this country."
The Greens will also propose a number of amendments, but won't jeopardise passage of the bill if they fail to garner support.
"At the end of the day, we are in support of getting a bill through parliament that will mean we can have marriage equality," Greens senator Janet Rice said.
Mr Shorten thanked members of the LGBTQI community for going through the survey process, which he said should not have had to happen.
"I feel for the young people who have had their relationships questioned in a way I wouldn't have thought we would see," he said.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – and Magda Szubanski - will speak to The Project about the result tonight.
© 2017 AAP