Canberra, Australia: The Australian Parliament has voted to allow same-sex marriage across the nation, following a bitter and divisive debate settled by the government polling voters in a much-criticized ballot survey that strongly endorsed change.
The House of Representatives passed the bill to change the definition of marriage from solely between a man and a man to "a union of two people." The votes were not counted because the majority wasn't questioned.
The Senate passed the same legislation last week 43 votes to 12. After royal assent and other formalities, the law will likely take effect in about a month, with the first weddings expected about a month later.
Amendments meant to safeguard freedoms of speech and religion for gay-marriage opponents were all rejected, though those issues may be considered later.