Same-sex marriage now allowed in Australia, 1st wedding likely in February

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Australia's Parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage Thursday after years of political jockeying and fierce public debate. In the guidelines from the Attorney-General's department, the words husband and wife in vows can be substituted by "spouse", News Mail reports. "We will be making no further comment". It is suggested that the legal terminology could change from husband and wife to "spouse".

A couple will be able to say: "I take thee to be my lawful wedded spouse".

"This amendment will enable marrying couples to word their marriage vows in a manner that best reflects their relationship", the explanatory memorandum to the bill states.

"Now I'll be asking couples how they want to be referred to". And I said to LGBTIQ Australians in particular, you have given us a gift. "It's a bit of a weird word".

The bill changes the definition of marriage from a union between a man and a woman to "a union of two people".

Indeed, a main reason the term "spouse" is being pushed to be officially within the Act is specifically because it is gender neutral.

Just under 5m people voted "no", with conservative politicians using their rejection as a catalyst to push for religious exemptions to be included in the bill.

MPs were seen crying in the chamber, while others were lifted from their feet as the hugged colleagues.

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Same-sex marriage is an overdue reform and should not require more debate. The Senate had already passed its own version of the bill the week prior.

Congratulations to Australia, most especially to those who fought long and hard to make this a reality!

Same-sex marriage is now recognised in more than 20 countries, of which 16 are in Europe.

The Greens also proposed amendments, including one to ensure civil celebrants can't reject same-sex marriages - the vote was also lost on the voices.

The move comes after nearly 13 million Australians (79.5%) voted in the country's non-binding postal ballot to endorse the law.

"The distinction between marriage and registered partnership cannot be maintained today without discriminating against same-sex couples".

"Today we celebrate that finally the law recognises what we always knew: our lives and relationships have the same value and worth".

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