Same sex marriage bill passes the Senate
The bill to legalise same-sex marriage has passed the Senate, but with a sitting week cancelled in the House of Representatives, MPs will not continue debate until next week.
A total 43 senators voted yes, and 12 senators voted no. Several senators abstained from the vote.
The bill must now go to the House of Representatives to be debated on. MPs are set to return to Canberra next week after this week's sitting dates were moved. The Lower House is expected to begin debate on the bill on Monday, meaning same sex marriage could be legal in Australia before Christmas.
Same sex marriage campaigner Rodney Croome said it was an emotional moment to witness the bill pass the Senate after campaigning for marriage equality for 13 years.
"I'm particularly glad that the Senate voted down proposed amendments that would've served only to further enshrine discrimination against LGBTI people," he said.
Mr Croome said there was nothing standing in the way of MPs to make same sex marriage legal by Christmas.
"After the vitriol and trauma of this debate, let's make 2018 a year of love, equality and commitment," he said.
In an extraordinary debate detour senators battle over identifying non-Christians:
THE same-sex marriage debate in the Senate today took a suddenly and jarring sidetrack into the popularity of the Lord's Prayer.
Speakers tried to identify those who didn't support religious protections in SSM legislation by whether they recited the prayer at the start of a Senate day.
The Upper House was heading steadily towards approving the private member's bill of Liberal Dean Smith, which will next week be considered by the House of Representatives.
Right-wingers were attempting last-minute amendments this morning in a bid to make that transition more complicated.
"I notice in the morning every day when we stand up to say the Lord's Prayer in this place that the majority of those on the opposite side don't even say the Lord's Prayer," said One Nation's Pauline Hanson.
"So their regard for religion is non-existent. It is of great concern to me that this legislation is being pushed through the chamber, and I don't believe there's a choice in this chamber at all."
It's against the Senate rules to highlight a member's religion, or lack of, but that didn't stop the LNP's Ian Macdonald who said some of his best friends were atheists.
He said referring to them was not a comment on their religion "because they don't have a religion, and they admit it".
He wanted to comment on the beliefs of others in the Senate, despite its rules.
"A lot of my friends don't have a religion, a lot of my friends don't say the Lord's Prayer," he said.
"But I think when this chamber and this whole debate gets to a curtailment of speech, where you are not even able to reflect on a fact that people themselves talk about, then Australia, I'm sorry, is heading down a very, very sad path."
He said he was a Christian of the Anglican faith and demanded the right to tell people that.
Senator Derryn Hinch had declared himself an atheist, while Labor's Senate leader Penny Wong said she was a reciter.
"I do say the Lord's Prayer, Senator Hanson, and I do so as a personal act of faith" she said.
The tone had been set by Pauline Hanson: "We have allowed political correctness and minorities to start taking our country and the people have not got the right to even have a view or an opinion."
She was moving her amendments after saying they recognised the views of the "No" minority in the same-sex marriage ballot.
She continued: "You are saying that people can only be religious to deny that right marry a couple.
"But under our Constitution, it says there cannot be any religious test. Regardless of whether anyone wants to put themselves down and say, 'I am of a religion,' under our Constitution we can't do that because you are forcing a religious test on them.
"So that is under our Constitution. You want to think clearly about this. You can't force anyone to have a religious test.
So if a marriage celebrant says they are not of a certain religion, they have the right then to deny marrying a same-sex couple."
- Malcolm Farr, news.com.au