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AUSTRALIA SAYS YES TO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

A rally for marriage equality on September 10 in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/ Getty Images.

Australia has voted yes in favour of same-sex marriage.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics says 7,817,247 people – 61.6% of the vote, said yes.

The no vote was 38.4%.

The results of the marriage equality survey. Graphic: Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The ABS announced the results of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey in Canberra this morning.

Nearly 79.5% of the eligible voters – 12,723,920 people – took part.

Support for SSM was highest in the ACT, with a 74%/26% yes/no split, while NSW was the lowest, at 57.8%/42.2%. All states voted in favour and 133 of 150 electorates returned a yes vote.

Prominent no campaigner Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah delivered one of the highest yes votes at 75%.

Sydney, held by Labor’s Tanya Plibersek, and Melbourne, held by Greens MP Adam Bandt, topped the yes response at 84%.

The biggest no vote was Blaxland, in western Sydney, held by Labor’s Jason Clare. It is one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse electorates in Australia, with nearly half the population born overseas and more than 90% identifying as religious. Around 20% of Blaxland is Muslim.

The overall 61.6% yes result falls within a whisker the 62.5% vote which would represent an absolute majority of all voters.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, who championed the yes vote and donated $1 million personally towards the campaign, said was “a proud moment for Australia”.

“It’s the epitome of a ‘fair go’ and shows that as a nation we want to be more inclusive, not less,” he said.

“I think that’s something worth celebrating whether this decision affects you or not. It’s certainly something the global community will take notice of.

“The outpouring of support for marriage equality over the past few months has been really heartening.”

Shortly after the announcement, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the result was “unequivocal” in an “unprecedented exercise in democracy”.

“They voted for fairness. They voted for commitment. They voted for love,” he said.

“Now it is up to us here in the parliament of Australia to get on with it.”

Turnbull said the government’s goal was to have the legislation passed through parliament by Christmas.

“We must respect the voice of the people,” he said.

“People have voted yes for marriage equality. Now it is our job to deliver it.”

The House of Representatives sits for a fortnight from November 27. And while the government faces some difficulties after losing its majority in the lower house following the resignations of Barnaby Joyce and John Alexander in the dual citizenship fiasco, the issue has cross-party support and already plans are in place Liberal senator Dean Smith to introduce a private member’s bill in favour of same-sex marriage to the Senate this afternoon.

If passed, it would then go to the lower house for approval when it sits in just under a fortnight.

But it may still face a final rear-guard action from those opposed to SSM, with fellow Liberal James Patterson this week proposing an alternative bill that essentially allows business owners to put a sign in the window of their shop saying “I don’t serve gay weddings” based on “religious or conscientious belief”.

The proposal has already been rejected by Turnbull, who said yesterday while still overseas that “I don’t believe Australians would welcome, and certainly the government … would not countenance making legal, discrimination that is illegal, that is unlawful today”.

But this issue has become a stalking horse for the PM’s conservative opponents, who may try and use the debate as another opportunity to try and further weaken Turnbull’s authority, as well as seeking to postpone the inevitable – a strategy they’ve pursued throughout the SSM debate – via a series of amendments and filibustering until parliament rises.

If they do, the government, led by George Brandis in the Senate, a supporter of SSM, is likely to enlist cross-party support to guillotine debate and push through the legislation.

Meanwhile, the result has brought relief from many prominent members of the gay community, including Olympic champion Ian Thorpe and US TV celebrity Ellen DeGeneres, who is married to Australian actress Portia de Rossi.

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