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Australia Senate approves same-sex marriage bill

[JURIST] The Australian Senate on Wednesday passed [text] a same-sex marriage bill, by a 43 to 12 vote.

The Marriage Amendment [text, PDF] amends the Marriage Act 1961 [text] by redefining marriage by introducing non-gendered language permitting same-sex marriages.

The decision to pass the bill comes after a national postal survey was conducted [JURIST report] where over 61 percent voted in favor of same-sex marriage. The bill was passed unamended, despite recommendations to ensure that religious freedoms were not harmed and to allow those who perform marriages the ability to refuse to do same-sex weddings.

According to a statement [text] made by Attorney General George Brandis, the passing of the bill is

a profoundly important social reform. Profoundly important though the acceptance of same-sex marriage may be as a social change, its symbolic significance is even greater still. With the passage of this Bill, we will demolish the last significant bastion of legal discrimination against people on the grounds of their sexuality. At last, Australia will no longer be insulting gay people by saying: different rules apply to you. This Bill ... [is] a final act of acceptance and embrace.
The bill now moves forward to the House of Representatives.

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