Australian Parliament allows same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage bill looks set to pass Parliament

Same-sex marriage bill set to pass through House of Representatives today

That said, the Senate voted in favor of legalizing it just after a few hours of debate and nearly unanimously with only four members opposing the bill.

"What a day. What a day for love, for equality, for respect", said Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The only potential obstacle to the law passing on Thursday would be if marriage equality opponents managed to amend the legislation.

This morning, with the public galleries overflowing, the lower house is debating proposed amendments to the bill.

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Turnbull, a gay marriage supporter, says he wants wedding celebrants, not just those affiliated with churches, to have the right to refuse to officiate at same-sex marriages.

"These amendments ensure that people who are legally recognised other than male or female can use the gender neutral term "spouse" to be accurately described in their wedding vows", the memorandum states. They were warned multiple times that parliamentary rules prohibit them from making noise and even applauding. The major parties want the legislation passed this week after a majority of Australian's endorsed change in a postal ballot last month. Austria on Tuesday also approved same-sex marriage.

The Marriage Amendment bill, if passed, will change the Marriage Act to legalise same-sex marriage.

Fighting back tears, Liberal MP Sarah Henderson told the story Wednesday night of a close gay friend of hers who died months ago and who, in one of their last conversations, asked her to continue to push for same-sex marriage.

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At a press conference after the vote, the Equality Campaign co-chair, Alex Greenwich, said: "We came, we saw and love finally conquered".

The House of Representatives is widely expected to vote to allow same-sex marriage across the nation.

About 12.7 million people participated in the survey, which had a response rate of almost 80% - which is considered very high.

Australia joins about two dozen countries around the world, including Germany, which have legalized same-sex marriage.

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