Almost exactly two weeks after a clear majority of Australians said 'yes' to marriage equality, the Senate has passed a bill for same-sex marriage in a historic vote.
Applause filled the chamber, the public gallery rose in a standing ovation, and politicians hugged on the Senate floor when it was announced that bill, penned by Liberal senator Dean Smith, had passed 43-12 with no substantive amendments.
The bill will go to the House of Representatives next week for further debate and a final vote.
Though we're yet to face the final hurdle, politicians from both sides - including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull - have said same-sex marriage is likely to be made legal by Christmas.
Smith praised senators on both sides of the largely respectful debate, noting “the conscience of those who opposed the bill, and the convictions of those who supported it.”
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. “The taste of defeat is always bitter and nobody likes it,” Abetz said, before adding that he accepted and respected the “yes” vote, but would vote against the bill to represent the 36% of Tasmanians who voted “no” in the survey.
On the other side of the debate, Labor Senate leader Penny Wong said that the law was important because of “what it means for all of us – what it says to young LGBTIQ Australians, what it says to the young man struggling with who he is or the young woman who feels alone and ashamed, what it says to the children of same-sex couples who feel ostracised.
"It says to so many Australians: this parliament and this country accept you for who you are; your love is not lesser and nor are you. It says: you're one of us,” she continued.
Attorney general George Brandis offered a similar view in an emotional speech yesterday, noting that the bill would send the message to young gay Australians that “you are a normal person and, like every other normal person, you have a need to love … Whom you love is for you to decide and others to respect," he said, as reported by ABC.