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Australia lawmakers reject gay marriage plan

Gay rights activists hold a rainbow flag during a rally to support same-sex marriage in central Sydney August 11.
Gay rights activists hold a rainbow flag during a rally to support same-sex marriage in central Sydney August 11.Daniel Munoz / Reuters

Australian lawmakers voted on Wednesday by more than two-to-one against a proposal to legalize gay marriage.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that 98 members of the House of Representatives – including Prime Minister Julia Gillard -- voted against the plan, while 42 had supported it.

However Labor party politician Anthony Albanese, who supported the law, said that "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 broadcaster reported. "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," Albanese said.

ABC reported that the head of the Australian Christian Lobby, Jim Wallace, had in a statement thanked those politicians who “as a matter of conscience, voted to ensure that marriage remained between a man and a woman."

ABC noted that Senator Cory Bernardi, of the center-right Liberal party, had resigned as a parliamentary secretary to his party’s leader Tony Abbott, after suggesting during a Senate debate Tuesday night that the next step after same-sex marriage would be to allow “three or four people that love each other being able to enter into a permanent union endorsed by society -- or any other type of relationship.”

He then added that there were “even some creepy people out there... [who] say it is OK to have consensual sexual relations between humans and animals,” Bernardi said, according to ABC. |Will that be a future step? In the future will we say, 'These two creatures love each other and maybe they should be able to be joined in a union.’ I think that these things are the next step.”

Supporter still 'confident'
The Age newspaper reported that advocates of same-sex marriage would now seek to persuade states within Australia to change the law.

"Now the federal parliament has effectively brushed the wishes of a majority of Australians aside, the states and territories will take the lead, making me confident we will see same sex marriages performed somewhere in Australia by the end of the year," Australian Marriage Equality convener Alex Greenwich said, according to the paper.

The Age added that in August Tasmania’s lower house had passed a bill to legalize gay marriage, which would now go to the state’s Legislative Council.

The paper said that Congress was to vote on another same-sex marriage bill Thursday.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong, whose partner Sophie Allouache gave birth to a baby girl in December, said Wednesday that she was hurt by the claim from some senators that children of same-sex couples were worse off than those of mixed-gender couples, The Age reported.

"I do not regret that our daughter has Sophie and I as parents," Wong added. "I do regret that she lives in a world where some will tell her that her family is not normal. I regret that even in this chamber, elected representatives denigrate the worth of her family.”

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