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Gay marriage advocates celebrate ahead of Australian vote

Members of the gay community and their supporters celebrate the result of a postal survey calling for gay marriage right Nov. 15 in Sydney, Australia. Australians supported gay marriage in a postal survey that ensures Parliament will consider legalizing same-sex weddings this year. (Rick Rycroft / AP)
Members of the gay community and their supporters celebrate the result of a postal survey calling for gay marriage right Nov. 15 in Sydney, Australia. Australians supported gay marriage in a postal survey that ensures Parliament will consider legalizing same-sex weddings this year. (Rick Rycroft / AP)

CANBERRA, Australia – Gay rights advocates celebrated outside Australia’s Parliament House on Thursday in anticipation of same-sex marriage being legalized within hours.

Scores of men and women joined in singing ahead of what was scheduled to be Parliament’s final sitting day of the year.

“It’s an historic day for Australia today and I think the celebrations around the country when we finally … achieve marriage equality are going to be immense,” Janet Rice said. Rice is a minor Greens party senator who was only able to remain married to her transgender wife of 31 years, Penny, because Penny remained listed as male on her birth certificate.

Penny Wong, an opposition Labor Party senator who has two children with her lesbian partner, said: “I am feeling happy.”

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

The Senate passed the same legislation last week 43 votes to 12.

The only potential obstacle to the law passing Thursday would be if marriage equality opponents managed to amend the legislation. The amended legislation would then have to go back to the Senate for ratification.

Gay rights advocates applauded from the public gallery Thursday as amendment after amendment was voted down.

Government Leader in the House Christopher Pyne apologized to gay marriage supporters in the public gallery who had traveled to Canberra that the issue was not resolved after four hours of debate.

The debate was temporarily adjourned, but Pyne assured the supporters: “We’ll have a vote on it this evening.”

Gay marriage was endorsed by 62 percent of Australian voters who responded to a government-commissioned postal ballot by last month.


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