The Bendigo Advertiser guide to the who, what, when, where - and what next - of the marriage survey

Just three letters – one word, in fact – are ringing in the ears of Australians today: yes.

Statistician David Kalisch fronted the media and audiences around the country at 10am to announce more than 60 per cent of participants in the federal government’s same-sex marriage survey marked ‘yes’ on their forms.  

But that does not mean marriage equality becomes law.

Aside from some cheers and tears, the announcement also sets in motion a course of events for the Australian Parliament.  

What we know already

Almost 80 per cent of eligible Australians, or 12.7 million people, submitted completed survey forms to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. 

A Newspoll survey released yesterday indicated 63 per cent of those who voted were in favour of marriage equality.

It was not far off the mark. In the end, 61.6% of participants (or 4.9 million people) said ‘yes’ 

The result is consistent with polling over the last decade that has shown a majority of Australians support same-sex marriage.

What next after ‘yes’?

The federal parliament is now required to pass a bill legislating a change to the Marriage Act before same-sex couples can wed.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has indicated he intends for marriage equality to be legislated  before Christmas. MPs have also suggested this could happen as early as tomorrow. 

A bill penned by Western Australian senator Dean Smith is the one most likely to be debated.

But conservative members of his party are preparing to request amendments to the bill they say would better protect freedoms of religion and conscience. 

Senator James Paterson this week released an alternative marriage amendment bill. 

His bill would not change the current definition of marriage, but rather add another clause saying marriage was also between two people of the same sex.

Chief ‘no’ campaigner and Australian Christian Lobby head Lyle Shelton told attendees at a Bendigo function last week that a ‘yes’ result was a reason to “not go back to sleep”.

He said conservatives should continue to push for protections of religious freedom and fight the introduction of gay sex education in schools.