Gay Marriage

Australian Voters Say Yes to Gay Marriage Recognition (But There's More to Come)

Nearly two-thirds give a thumb's up, but Parliament still needs to act.


Yes flag
Richard Milnes / MEGA / Newscom

The results of Australia's mail-in referendum on same-sex marriage are in, and its citizens have significantly declared they would like to see their gay brothers and sisters tie the knot.

In the end, 61.6 percent of voters said yes to legally recognizing same-sex couples. And the country saw nearly 80 percent of its eligible citizens mail back their ballots.

But it's not entirely a done deal. This was a non-binding referendum, and does not actually force the country to recognize gay marriages. The country's Parliament is still going to have to vote to make it legal.

That's kind of what the rather unusual election was about. The more conservative component of the country's ruling coalition remained officially opposed to same-sex marriage recognition and would not allow its members to vote their consciences and defy the party's position. The polls though, showed that Australians widely supported same-sex marriage recognition. So the ruling government called for this nationwide referendum to ask the citizens one single question: Whether to legally recognize same-sex marriage.

This yes vote will now give members of parliament the political cover to go ahead and change the law. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he'll bring a bill before the Parliament before Christmas. While it appears same-sex marriage is inevitable, there's going to be a familiar-to-Americans fight over what sort of protections to include to account for private religious objections to recognizing same-sex marriages. Stay tuned for a new round of wedding cake wars, perhaps.