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Day for same sex marriage vote: Trent Zimmerman

15 November 2017

The result was announced by the ABS at 10am on Wednesday, November 15 in Canberra with 61.6 per cent of Australians voting "yes" to Same-Sex marriage.

The latest polls suggest more than 60 per cent of people have voted yes.

If so, and all goes to plan in federal parliament, same-sex couples may be able to Wednesday by Christmas. But this is Australia, a country that has five Prime Ministers since 2010 so the wait might not be that long.

Nevertheless, discussions are well under underway as to how same-sex marriage might be legislated.

Two Liberal senators have released very different bills: the moderate-backed Dean Smith bill and the James Paterson bill, favoured by conservatives. Given the combination of moderate Liberals, Labor and the Greens in the Senate, it's unlikely any conservative amendments would succeed.

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Both the Coalition and the opposition Labor Party have promised to give their MPs a conscience vote on the bill.

Liberal MP and same-sex marriage supporter Trent Zimmerman described the second bill as weird.

Lawyers, churches, think tanks and interest groups will clamour for attention in coming weeks as they try to tell politicians what to do.

Mr Zimmerman said he had not heard from a single baker or florist who wanted the right to refuse service to gay couples for their weddings.

If it is a yes from the public, then PM Malcolm Turnbull has said a private member's bill will be debated in Parliament, with the PM pushing for a vote before Christmas.

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"Just as importantly from the government's perspective, it's important we finalise this issue so 2018 is a year where we can focus on other things on our agenda".

But because it was a survey, not a referendum, the results have no immediate effect.

With companies such as Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Qantas Airways campaigning for the nation to catch up with New Zealand, the U.S. and Britain, the postal vote was Turnbull's bid to break the deadlock.

The proposal has already been rejected by Turnbull, who said yesterday while still overseas that "I don't believe Australians would welcome, and certainly the government ... would not countenance making legal, discrimination that is illegal, that is unlawful today".

"I don't agree with the Prime Minister that this (James Paterson) bill makes activities which are now illegal legal", Nationals Senator Matt Canavan told ABC radio.

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Day for same sex marriage vote: Trent Zimmerman