It's a yes - and a law! Follow Bendigo's reaction as the Australian parliament makes history and legalises marriage equality

UPDATE FRIDAY 9.10am: The Marriage Amendment Act is today the law of the land, with the Governor-General giving his royal assent just moments ago.

Bills passed by the Australian Parliament are not officially law until signed off by the head of state. 

Australia’s current governor-general is General Sir Peter Cosgrove.

The act was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Attorney-General George Brandis.   

UPDATE 6.10pm: Bendigo ‘yes’ campaigners are celebrating tonight as the Australian Parliament makes marriage equality law. 

Ethan Farley, a Bendigo Says Yes committee member, said he was “euphoric” that same-sex couples could finally say “I do”.

It was a different reaction to his subdued response following the November 15 release of postal survey results.

“I was tired after that campaign and it wasn't law yet, and I knew there was still a fight before we could celebrate,” Mr Farley said.

That fight was won comprehensively on the floor of Parliament, with all proposed changes to gay West Australian senator Dean Smith’s bill voted down.   

“It's been a really, really public recognition that we are people, we are citizens, and we deserve the exact same equal rights as other citizens in this country,” Mr Farley said.

He paid tribute to community elders who had waged battles for decriminalisation and adoption rights, among other liberties once refused to LGBTI people.

But the pursuit of equality was not over, Mr Farley – who identifies as a transgender gay male – said.

He wanted to see more done to protect the wellbeing of the trans and gender diverse community and issued a warning to politicians, saying LGBTI Australians were now a networked and mobilised community of people.

“The next time they try and challenge our rights, there's a core group in Bendigo who will defend them.” 

Also celebrating was another face of the Bendigo ‘yes’ push, Tash Joyce. An ally of the LGBTI community, Ms Joyce said that, “despite some last minute jitters”, she had remained confident the law would be passed. 

“This is a great step forward for equality for the LGBTQI community,” she said, explaining she was glad a contigent of Bendigo Says Yes campaigners were present in Canberra for the historic moment.

“The Bendigo community has played an important role in this process, achieving one of the highest ‘yes’ results in the country.”

She too fired a warning shot at prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, believing he had “made a rod for his own back” by calling for a postal survey.

“Four-hundred-and-fifity young people (in Bendigo) who had never voted before have joined the electoral roll and I don't doubt for a second that come the next federal election, they will remember who and why that was.”

“Certainly the LGBTIQ community won't forget what they've been forced to endure.”

UPDATE 5.55pm: With just four dissenting voices, marriage equality has been enacted into law.

Same-sex couples will now be able to wed one another, like there heterosexual peers have always been able to.  

Applause rang out after the clerk performed the third – and final – reading of the Marriage Amendment Bill, which is now an act of law. 

MPs held aloft a rainbow flag on the floor of Parliament during a long standing ovation. 

The gallery began a rousing chorus of The Seekers’ We Are Australian, a message of unity after the divisive debate waged during the postal survey on same-sex marriage. 

UPDATE 5.50pm: Marriage equality is on the brink of becoming the law of the land as the House of Representatives throws out all of the amendments proposed. 

Moving the bill be read a third time, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said: “[Today] belongs to every Australian.

“Let’s finalise this bill right now.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten declared: “At long last, LGBTIQ Australians will be equal under the law.”

“Now is the time for healing, to put this debate behind us and we should declare we are no longer a nation of people who voted no, or people who voted yes’.

“We are simply Australians one and all.”

He also dispelled the idea that equality was being “gifted” to LGBTI Australians. 

“Equality is never a gift to be given. It is an unalienable birth right of every Australia and this equality is overdue,” Mr Shorten said. 

UPDATE 4.45pm: Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson is the last to move an amendment on the Dean Smith bill.

She says she’s long supported the rights of gay and lesbian people to marry, but asks for charities to protected and celebrants to be free to marry who they choose; that’s why she’s asking her peers to vote for an amendment that would enshrine freedom to teach and observe faith tenets. 

Celebrants could also refuse to solemnises marriages they were opposed to, if Ms Henderson’s amendments were backed.

The MP was concerned about the scope of similar amendments moved during the debate. 

It is opposed from within her own party by the first openly gay MP of the house, Trent Zimmerman, and by the Greens’ Adam Bandt. Christopher Pyne also speaks against it because “it is based on a false premise”.

“My contention this afternoon is there’s never been a reason to believe that marriage equality inhibits religious freedom,” Mr Pyne said. 

“This bill does protect religious freedom – it doesn’t require anyone in Australia to act against their religious principles.”

UPDATE 4.20pm: The bells are ringing in the Parliament, giving MPs four minutes to enter the chamber and vote on the Andrew Broad’s amendment.

It was voted down, but Mr Broad is now lodging another set of amendments for the Parliament’s discussion. 

He relates a long story about how Jesus intervened to stop the stoning of a woman to argue religious organisations are the “spearhead of good” and should be exempt from anti-discrimination law to employ people people of similar thinking.

“I haven’t seen too many people fro the LGBTI community become great social advocates,” Mr Broad said. 

Charities and fringe tax laws would also be changed if Mr Broad’s second lot of proposed changes got up.

Warren Entsch again rises to oppose the amendments. 

“Australians have waited long enough for marriage equality; we can do it today – let’s get it done,” the Leichardt MP said.

It’s voted down, 85 to 60. 

UPDATE 3.40pm: Mallee MP Andrew Broad has circulated a set of amendments asking that religious organisations and their followers be allowed to refuse hire of their facilities to people with views on marriage different to their own. 

“You should be able to hold your values, you should be able to determine what happens to your own assets,” Mr Broad said.

“They’ve been established with their money to do (with) what they want… and that is not offensive.”

Recently returned at a by-election in his seat of New England, deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce also  spoke in favour of the amendment, asking for “some more grace” in the proposed bill.  

“I am somewhat perplexed that on none of these amendments have we had support from members of the Labor party,” Mr Joyce said. 

If they were truly allowed to exercise their conscience, there would be from time to time members of the Labor party who have the same views as people who’ve occupied this side of the chamber.”

He was rebuffed by his coalition peer Warren Entsch, the Liberal member for Queensland seat Leichardt and one of the biggest supporters of marriage equality in the government.

“Australians don’t want our nation taken back by entrenching discrimination of same-sex couples … these amendments woud dramatically wind back protections,” Mr Entsch said. 

Applause sounds from the gallery every time a speaker opposed to the amendments completes their speech.  

That was criticised by George Christiansen, who said they were clapping the erosion of religious liberties.

EARLIER: It is four months since the federal government announced its postal survey on same-sex marrage, and more than three weeks since an overwhelming majority of Australians returned a result in favour of the reform.

More than 13 years have passed since then-prime minister John Howard changed the definition of marriage to deny same-sex couples the opportunity to wed. 

But when the House of Representatives votes on the marriage equality sometime before today’s session ends, the only number that will matter is 75.

That is the total of votes needed to see marriage equality become the law of the land. 

The upper house voted in favour of senator Dean Smith’s Marriage Amendment Bill last week, 43 votes to 12. 

The bill passed the Senate without a single alteration and it appears likely the same will occur in the lower house this afternoon.

Bendigo Advertiser’s coverage so far…

On the day of the survey results

People’s stories

Place your cursor over each picture and click on the blue and white circles to reveal the stories behind the faces:

Campaign for a ‘yes’ result

What the church had to say

Other news