Australian parliament rejects same-sex marriage
The House of Representatives voted down the bill to legalise marriage between same sex couples by 98 to 42, with Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition conservative leader Tony Abbott both voting against it.
Gillard had allowed Labor MPs a conscience vote on the issue -- meaning they were free to vote how they wanted rather than along party lines -- while the opposition had opposed it.
Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese, who voted for the reform, said despite the bill's failure the figures were encouraging.
"Just a few years ago there wouldn't have been the support of anything like 42 votes on the floor of the national parliament for a marriage equality bill," he told reporters.
"All the figures show that there is majority community support on this issue... and I think at some future time, parliament will catch up with the community opinion."
The vote ends several days of debate on the bill, during which one senator sparked outrage by linking same-sex marriage to sex with animals. The furore surrounding the comments forced him to resign from his parliamentary role.
Speaking on the bill late yesterday, outspoken Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi said he questioned what the next step would be if the government redefined marriage so that two people could wed regardless of their gender.
"The next step, quite frankly, is having three people or four people
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