Marriage equality campaigners are cheering the historic passage of same-sex legislation through the Senate on Wednesday.
Liberal Senator Dean Smith’s marriage equality bill was passed 43 votes to 12 on Wednesday afternoon and will be put to a final vote in the House of Representatives next week.
All campaigners called for the bill to be passed without any delay, ensuring marriage equality by Christmas and the first weddings from early next year.
Veteran LGBTI rights campaigner Rodney Croome thanked all the supportive senators, including the eight from his home state of Tasmania, for ensuring the passage of the legislation and making Australia “a more just and equal place”.
“After campaigning for marriage equality for thirteen years, it was an emotional moment for me to witness the Senate vote through this legislation,” he said.
“I’m particularly glad that the Senate voted down proposed amendments that would’ve served only to further enshrine discrimination against LGBTI people.
“I pay tribute to those Tasmanian senators who have been the voice for our state’s strong ‘yes’ vote, and have done us proud by voting for equality.”
He reflected on the journey from the Howard Government’s 2004 ban on same-sex marriages to today.
“Thirteen years ago I was one of those people, together with my fellow LGBTI advocates, who sat and watched in horror and shock as the senate passed amendments to the Marriage Act, explicitly entrenching marriage as a union of one man and one woman and banning the recognition of overseas same sex marriages,” he said.
“It was an awful moment for us, but never for one second did we believe that the decision reflected the will of the Australian people.
“So many of us fought for so long and so hard to awaken the Australian people to the injustice that had been done in their name – to educate them about the importance of this reform – not just for LGBTI people but for the nation.”
Mr Croome told Prime Minister Turnbull and all members of parliament that “nothing is standing in your way” to enact marriage equality before Christmas.
“This legislation should be passed by the House of Representatives without delay,” he said.
“After the vitriol and trauma of this debate, let’s make 2018 a year of love, equality and commitment.”
The Equality Campaign said the senate had acted on the mandate the Australian people delivered and have “voted overwhelmingly for fairness and equality.”
“We got here thanks to the hard work and passionate campaigning of so many people across the country who stood up for a fair go for all,” spokesperson Alex Greenwich (pictured above, left) said.
At a press conference alongside supportive senators, Greenwich held back tears as he personally thanked Senator Smith for his “immense leadership” on the issue.
“This would not have been possible without you. This would not have been possible without someone from your side of politics taking the leadership that you have, to get us to where we are today,” he said.
The Equality Campaign’s Anna Brown said the victory is the culmination of more than a decade’s work by supporters of equality.
“Each and every person who has campaigned for equality, each Australian who stood up and voted ‘yes’, and, today, every Senator from every political party who voted in favour of equality and fairness,” she said.
Ms Brown paid tribute to Senators Dean Smith, Janet Rice, Penny Wong, and Louise Pratt for their “unwavering commitment” to the reform.
“During the debate we saw history being made with LGBTI members from all major parties leading the debate,” she said.
“Our supporters in parliament stared down efforts by religious conservatives to introduce new forms of discrimination against LGBTI people.”
Alex Greenwich tears up as he thanks Dean Smith for his advocacy. "From one gay man to another…" pic.twitter.com/ydOQaSM0Mq
— Lane Sainty (@lanesainty) November 29, 2017
The senate has made history and passed a #MarriageEquality Bill (43/12)Onto the House of Reps next week! Thank you @DeanSmithWA for your courage & unwavering commitment & all Senators who said yes to equality & fairness #auspol #lovewins pic.twitter.com/Ltz64WUgwj
— Anna Brown (@AnnaHRLC) November 29, 2017