Australia House of Representatives approves same-sex marriage bill

A group of women in Federation Square in Melbourne react on Thursday as it is announced that same-sex marriage will be legal in Australia

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who had supported legalization, tweeted support for the measure after its passage.

The bill cleared the upper house last month and had been expected to pass on Thursday after Turnbull's Liberal-National coalition government and the main opposition Labor Party had previously said they wanted to pass it by December 7.

The marriage equality bill won massive support in the House of Representatives where almost all members of the ruling Liberal-National Coalition joined by Labor and the Greens voting in favor of the bill.

With the new bill, same-sex couples that were legally married in other countries will now have these marriages recognized. Gay marriage was endorsed by 62 percent of Australian voters who responded to a government-commissioned postal ballot by last month.

Appropriating Ecclesiastes 3, Shorten said there was a season for everything: "It is now a time to heal, a time to build, a time to laugh, a time to embrace, a time to love and now, at last, a time for marriage equality".

Members of Parliament celebrate at Parliament House on Thursday in Canberra Australia after the approval of same-sex marriage
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The Jensens first said they'd get divorced if same-sex couples could get married back in 2015. "It is time for more marriages, more equality, more love". Leading "no" campaigner Lyle Shelton said it was "deeply disappointing" day.

Marriage equality supporters in the parliament's public gallery sang the chorus of the Seekers song I Am Australian - "We'll share a dream and sing with one voice, I am, you are, we are Australian" - after the vote passed. They were warned multiple times that parliamentary rules prohibit them from making noise and even applauding.

Australians have always been in favor of same-sex marriage, with polling from as long as 10 years ago showing majority support for legalizing marriage equality.

MPs have paid tribute to Entsch over the pass few weeks for his efforts, with the veteran Liberal MP speaking passionately about his "very lonely" journey in support of equal rights on the conservative side of politics.

Same-sex marriage is now recognised in more than 20 countries, of which 16 are in Europe. Austria on Tuesday also approved same-sex marriage.

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