A bill to legalize same-sex marriage passed the Senate in a historic moment in Australian politics, setting up a final vote in the House of Representatives. The bill breezed through 43 votes to 12, and the moment was met with a standing ovation in the packed public and parliamentary galleries.
Senators from various parties hugged each other and cried following the vote, with some declaring it the proudest day in their parliamentary careers.
“This is the Senate’s day,” Liberal senator Dean Smith said shortly after. “This is a demonstration that working across the chamber… does deliver not just good outcomes but fantastic outcomes.”
Attorney-General George Brandis said he was “so proud of Australian democracy today, more proud than I have ever been.” It was a day to “rejoice in what the Australian people achieved this year,” he said.
Labor’s Senate leader Penny Wong – who is gay and fought within Labor for years to change its position on same-sex marriage – said it was a day of “great celebration for so many people across this country.”
“It says to so many Australians: this Parliament, this country, accept you for who you are. Your love is not lesser and nor are you. It says you are one of us,” Senator Wong said.
“We have seen in this debate how our Parliament is meant to work,” he said. “The real question out of this debate is why isn’t our Parliament like this more often?”
Parliamentarians from both sides had a conscience vote on the bill and some chose to abstain.
Various amendments to the bill – including moves to allow civil celebrants to refuse to perform gay weddings – were defeated in the Senate prior to the vote.
While these parliamentarians celebrate with pride today, one day soon they will hang their heads in shame before the Judge of all the earth.
“Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot…” Luke 17:28.