Australia appears to be on its way to becoming the next country to officially recognize same-sex marriage. That follows the results of a nationwide vote spread out over two months. But the process is still not over. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.
Roughly 80 percent of Australian voters took part in a voluntary poll on whether to legalize same-sex marriage.
62 percent of them said “yes.”
Voting was voluntary, as opposed to regular elections in Australia, where voting is required by law.
But these results are not legally binding by themselves: they set the stage for a separate vote in parliament.
That legislative process is already underway.
One of the co-sponsors of the bill to legalize same sex marriage received a standing ovation as he introduced it on Thursday.
Senator Dean Smith, who is gay, said “I never believed the day would come when my relationship would be judged by my country to be as meaningful and valued as any other. The Australian people have proven me wrong.”
The next step: debating amendments.
Some conservative lawmakers want to add language to the measure to allow businesses to refuse goods and services for same sex marriages.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull supports the legislation as is—and says he wants to get it passed by Christmas.
If that timetable holds, the first same sex marriages in Australia could be held by early January.