This afternoon Australia’s Senate voted on marriage equality, with defeat coming through 41 voting against the measure versus just 26 voting in favour.
The disappointing result comes less than 24 hours after the House of Representatives also decided against Labor MP Stephen Jones’ Private Members Bill for marriage equality – only 42 MPs voted in favour, with 98 against.
The 34 Senators of the Liberal Party were not granted a conscience vote on the legislation, thus all had to vote against it together – though several of them would’ve otherwise supported it.
Following today’s vote, Senator Penny Wong, who is in a same-sex relationship herself and spoke passionately in favour of the Marriage Amendment Bill yesterday, was quick to point out that despite the result, supporters of marriage equality have achieved a great deal.
“Since the Bill has been in the Parliament, our number of supporters has grown,” she pointed out.
“We have seen some who previously opposed marriage equality now stand in support of it.”
Where the Federal Parliament has failed, individual states are taking big steps towards equality, Wong adds encouragingly.
“Votes will take place in the Tasmanian Parliament next week and in the next sitting session of the South Australian Parliament on legislation to allow same sex marriage. NSW parliamentarians have recently announced they too will be introducing legislation to end the discrimination against gay and lesbian Australians.”
“To the many supporters of marriage equality, I encourage you to continue to campaign for marriage equality in each state and federally. To LGBTI Australians, take encouragement from the progress we have made towards marriage equality and from the positive moves in the Australian community.
“As I said in my contribution to the Senate on Wednesday, ‘many steps towards equality in this country were not won the first time, nor even the second. Many were achieved only after years of action and of activism. But the aspiration for equality is persistent, and it cannot be denied forever.’”
Senator Penny Wong’s speech in favour of the Marriage Amendment Bill can be read here. It is one of the best speeches we’ve seen on the topic and we warmly recommend you read it.