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Marriage equality wins in Australia, but political fight only beginning
By Ben Westcott

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA:
 People in the crowd celebrate as the result is announced during the Official Melbourne Postal Survey Result
Announcement at the State Library of Victoria on November 15, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. Australians have voted for marriage laws to
be changed to allow same-sex marriage, with the Yes vote defeating No. Despite the Yes victory, the outcome of Australian Marriage Law
Postal Survey is not binding, and the process to change current laws will move to the Australian Parliament in Canberra.  




































All that needs to be changed to make same-sex marriage legal is a tweak to the Australian Marriage Act, which defines marriage as
between a man and a woman.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says that could happen by Christmas but conservative politicians are pushing hard for extensive
religious protections in any bill legalizing marriage equality, to shield "no" supporters and Christians, which could stall the bill's progress.
"Protecting fundamental freedoms -- freedoms such as parental rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and conscientious
objection will be vital to alleviate the valid concerns of millions of Australians," vocal same-sex marriage opponent Liberal Party Senator
Eric Abetz said in a statement after the result.

In total, 61.6% of Australians voted in favor of changing the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, according to results
announced Wednesday, while 38.4% voted against.

More than 12 million people cast their votes, a turnout of 79.5%, and the "yes" vote won a majority in every state and territory, according to
the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

"They voted yes for love, and now it is up to us here in the Parliament of Australia to get on with it, to get on with the job the Australian
people have tasked us to do," Turnbull said Wednesday morning.

Australia has long lagged behind the rest of the world on marriage equality, which has already been passed into law in most English-
speaking countries.

Pointing to years of strong polling in favor of same-sex marriage, opposition parties had argued for Parliament to legislate without a
postal vote or referendum.

"I feel for young people who had their relationships questioned in a way I
wouldn't have thought we would see ever again, but nevertheless what this
marriage equality survey shows is that unconditional love always has the last
word," Labor leader Bill Shorten said Wednesday.

Marriage legislation to be introduced
The result of the survey, conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, was non-binding and, in theory, the Australian Parliament
doesn't need to act on it.

However, Turnbull said Wednesday he would keep his promise to hold a free vote -- also known as a conscience vote -- on a bill to
legalize same-sex marriage.
A conscience vote means politicians can vote with their electorates or their own opinions, rather than following the usual strict adherence
to voting with their party.

Same-sex marriage campaigners say they're confident they have the numbers in the Australian Parliament to pass the legislation.
"The challenge has never been the numbers, we've always had a majority in (this) parliament on marriage equality, just as there's been
a majority in the population. The problem has been the will of politicians," Tiernan Brady, executive director at the Equality Campaign, told
CNN.

The most popular bill under consideration, written by governing Liberal Party Senator Dean Smith and supported by the opposition Labor
Party, was introduced into the Australian Senate late on Wednesday afternoon, just hours after the result, and is due to be debated
Thursday morning, a spokesman for Senator Smith confirmed to CNN.

It allows for same-sex marriage but includes religious protections for those who conduct marriages but don't want to officiate LGBT
ceremonies.
"As a result of this clear win, (the 'yes' side) have got the numbers and they've absolutely got more momentum than they might have had,
had it been a close result," University of Western Australia professor of Politics Peter Van Onselen told CNN.

Conservatives push for protections
Conservatives are expected to fight hard for religious protections in any same-sex marriage legislation.
A second bill, written by Liberal Party Senator James Paterson, was originally touted by conservatives and "no" advocates as an
alternative to Smith's.

That bill would have offered business and service providers legal protection if they chose to deny wedding services to same-sex couples.

Paterson announced Wednesday he wouldn't be introducing it to the Senate, but it gives an indication of the kind of religious protections
conservatives might push for.

Brad Irvine, 45, and Paul Nguyen 30, have been together 14 months. "We were expecting a yes result but you just don't know. It was
emotional as a couple as it's been a messed up time going through this whole thing," they told CNN.

Amy Maguire, senior lecturer in International Law and Human Rights at the University of Newcastle, said Paterson's bill would have
applied to "hotels, photographers, florists, bakers and hire car drivers".

"The bill would also permit parents to withdraw children from classes if content is inconsistent with a 'relevant marriage belief' or 'relevant
belief'," she wrote on the Conversation website.
Paterson said in a Facebook post after the result he would push for "amendments" to Smith's bill instead, while former Australian Prime
Minister and prominent "no" campaigner Tony Abbott said Smith's bill still needed to be "improved."

Australia votes on same-sex marriage: What you need to know
"I look forward to a parliamentary process that improves (the bill) to implement same-sex marriage with freedom of conscience for all,
not just the churches," he said.

Van Onselen said conservative politicians could play a long game and allow the legislation to be passed by Christmas, with the aim of
seeking to amend the law in future.

Brady said any attempt to introduce strict protections such as those in the Paterson bill would be "a rebuke to the people of Australia."
"There is no reason in the world to delay this. This has been a 20-year debate and it's over," he said. "Pass the law."




Australia le dice “sí” al matrimonio igualitario

El 62% de la sociedad australiana está a favor de que este proyecto, que aún debe ser aprobado por el Parlamento, se convierta en ley.
Australia dio este miércoles un paso de gigante en pos de la legalización del matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo después de
que una amplia mayoría de su población votara a su favor en un proceso que, sin ser vinculante, allana el camino para que el
Parlamento debata y reconozca este tipo de uniones.

Del total de 12,7 millones de australianos que votaron en esta encuesta postal, el 61,6% dijo ‘sí’ a la pregunta “¿Debería cambiarse la
ley de matrimonio para permitir que las parejas del mismo sexo se casen?“, mientras que un 38,4% se pronunció en su contra, según
datos de la Oficina Australiana de Estadísticas. Del total de 16 millones de personas habilitadas para votar, un 79,5% de ellas lo
hicieron.

“Los australianos han hablado y han votado abrumadoramente ‘sí’ por el matrimonio igualitario”, dijo nada más conocerse los
resultados el primer ministro del país, Malcolm Turnbull, favorable a la legalización de este tipo de bodas. “Votaron ‘sí’ por la justicia,
votaron ‘sí’ por el compromiso, votaron ‘sí’ por el amor“. Ahora nuestra parte, aquí en el Parlamento, es aceptarlo, hacer el trabajo y
hacerlo antes de Navidad”, añadió.

El resultado de hoy abre la puerta para que el Gobierno de coalición conservadora permita la presentación en el Parlamento de un
proyecto de ley para reformar la Ley de Matrimonios de 1961, que fue enmendada en 2004 para precisar que esta unión es exclusiva
entre un hombre y una mujer. Según reconoció el propio Turnbull, el triunfo del ‘sí’ servirá para presionar a los legisladores
conservadores que se oponen a este trámite, muchos de los cuales pertenecen a su propia formación, el Partido Liberal.

El resultado fue recogido con gran alborozo por las miles de personas congregadas en lugares públicos de diferentes ciudades de todo
el país, que lo celebraron bandera arcoiris en mano con gritos, aplausos, bailes y champán. “No importa cómo queramos vivir nuestra
vida, debemos vivir como personas iguales en este país“, gritó la actriz Magda Szubanski a la multitud reunida en el parque Príncipe
Alfredo de Sídney.

“Este es nuestro momento de mayor orgullo como australianos homosexuales y lesbianas”, subrayó Chris Lewis, un artista de 60 años
también presente en el parque, a los medios locales. “Finalmente puedo estar orgulloso de mi país“. Figuras públicas del país como el
campeón olímpico de natación, Ian Thorpe, y la cantante Sia o internacionales como el ex premier británico, David Cameron, o el director
ejecutivo de Apple, Tim Cook, también tomaron las redes sociales para felicitar a los australianos y mostrar su alegría por los
resultados.

Por su parte, los partidarios del ‘no’ -aglutinados en torno a los políticos conservadores como el ex primer ministro Tony Abbott y las
agrupaciones religiosas- han expresado su pesar por la decisión tomada por la ciudadanía, aunque aseguran que la respetarán.
“Aceptamos la decisión democrática”, afirmó Lyle Shelton, un activista cristiano que se ha erigido en uno de los defensores más
populares del ‘no’. “Millones de australianos siempre creerán la verdad sobre el matrimonio, que es entre un hombre y una mujer”,
apostilló.

Además de por su alto costo, la campaña no ha estado exenta de momentos de polémica, con pintadas en las paredes y gritos en
actos públicos. Mientras que los defensores del matrimonio gay centraron su discurso en la igualdad, sus detractores pusieron el
énfasis en la definición de la familia, en la educación en las escuelas y en la protección de aquellos que no reconocen este tipo de
uniones.

Ahora, el gobierno del primer ministro Turnbull tendrá que elegir entre dos propuestas. La primera es la de Dean Smith, senador
homosexual del Partido Liberal que el martes apuntó que creía tener los votos necesarios para que su proyecto fuera aprobada por el
Senado. Para el ministro de Finanzas, Mathias Cormann, este texto es “un buen punto de partida” pero, a su parecer, requiere de
“protecciones religiosas adicionales”.

La segunda es del conservador James Paterson, también senador del Partido Liberal, que presenta un proyecto de ley con
protecciones religiosas más robustas y que busca proteger a aquellos proveedores de bienes y servicios que rechacen atender a
parejas del mismo sexo sin tener que enfrentarse a acciones legales por ello.

Australia no es la primera nación del mundo en recurrir a un referendo popular para decidir sobre esta cuestión. En 2015, Irlanda fue el
primer país en legalizar mediante votación popular este tipo de uniones, un resultado que fue negativo ese mismo año en Eslovenia. En
EEUU, numerosos estados prohibieron el matrimonio gay en referendos y no fue hasta 2012 cuando se aprobaron los primeros por
esta vía (Maine, Maryland y Washington). En 2015, la Corte Surprema legalizó estas bodas para todo el país.



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