Emotional senators pass same-sex marriage

WATCH Attorney General gives surprising but powerful speech about same-sex marriage

Senator Eric Abetz says the senate missed an opportunity to create a unifying moment for the Australian people by rejecting all of the amendments put forward in the marriage bill debate.

The bill passed through the Australian Senate this afternoon to thunderous applause.

Liberal senator Dean Smith, who authored the bill, told his Senate colleagues before the vote that while it had been a hard journey to get to this point, the debate over the bill had been "good for the soul" of all Australians.

All proposed amendments, excluding technical tweaks, were voted down with moderate coalition MPs voting with Labor and the Greens to defeat the bulk of attempts by their conservative colleagues to change the bill.

Australians overwhelmingly showed their approval of same-sex marriage in a recent postal poll.

"In a world where there are more tensions between people, our country has offered a loving embrace to its own", Senator Smith said. "You are just you", he said on Tuesday, when the main debate took place.

"You are a normal person and, like every other normal person, you have a need to love ..."

"It says to so many Australians, this parliament, this country, accepts you for who you are", she said.

Attorney-General George Brandis, the government's Senate leader, said the legislation would "demolish the last significant bastion of legal discrimination" over sexuality in Australia. "Essentially we are seeking a "no detriment" clause so that no one who holds a belief in traditional marriage is penalized for their belief at work or in the wider society".

It also includes a clause where "religious marriage celebrants" are not required to officiate same-sex weddings if it violates tenets of their faith.

Senator Matt Canavan said he was "sceptical that we could trust the political process" to enshrine religious freedoms.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott said he expected similar amendments which were defeated in the Senate to be moved in the lower house.

Senators from various parties hugged each other and cried following the vote, with some declaring it the proudest day in their parliamentary careers.

A total of 17 senators, including One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, abstained from the vote.

The Tasmanian senator said that it should be remembered that religious rights are part of Australia's worldwide obligations, while same sex marriage was not.

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