Australia

'We are equal': Gay couple celebrates as same-sex marriage bill passes

The wait is over for many same-sex couples who are eager to get married after Australia's parliament decided to legalise gay marriage.

For many of Australia's LGBTQI couples who were eagerly watching parliament this week, the decision to legalise same-sex marriage is one they have waited a long time for.

Melbourne couple Mike Bennett and Dave Novotny celebrated with champagne at the news they could finally get married.

The couple has been engaged for more than a year and they are now ready to plan for their big day.

"I didn't want to get married in another country or have a marriage that wasn't recognised here in Australia," Mr Bennett told SBS News.

Mike Bennett and Dave Novotny celebrate the news Australia has voted Yes to legalise same-sex marriage.
Mike Bennett and Dave Novotny celebrate the news Australia has voted Yes to legalise same-sex marriage.
SBS World News

"The bit where you've got all your family and friends around you, celebrating love, that's what I'm really looking forward to."

As the legislation has now passed in Canberra, it will not be long before couples like Mike and Dave can legally tie the knot.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull expected the first same-sex marriages to take place in early January after the law becomes formally legalised.

While they are yet to set their date, the couple said they were looking forward to many celebrations to come.

"It shows that the Australian public supports us, supports them, and that we are equal, and that we have the same rights as every other person in Australia,” Mr Novotny said.

Gay celebrant Bronte Price said the decision was a relief.

"People are finally relieved that it's through, it's passed and we can all get married," he told SBS News.

"But there certainly will be an addition to the economy. I don't think it's about the pink dollar, it's about the social welfare, the mental health benefits."

Members celebrate before the passing of the Marriage Amendment Bill in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, December 7, 2017. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Members celebrate before the passing of the Marriage Amendment Bill in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra.
AAP

Mr Price said he had received multiple calls a day since the postal survey was announced.

Reverend Ric Holland's calendar is quickly filling up too.

"I'm not really quite sure how long it's going to take for the institution of the church to catch up, but within the next few months," he said.

The Uniting Church minister is one of several within his church who have publicly supported same-sex marriage, unlike other religious institutions.

Reverend Holland said the church has proudly displayed rainbow flags for many years.

And while civil ceremonies have been popular, the legislation is expected to provide a boost to the wedding industry.

Celebrations as Parliamentarians for YES watch a live broadcast of the announcement of the results of the Marriage Equality survey in Canberra
Celebrations as Parliamentarians for YES watch a live broadcast of the announcement of the results of the Marriage Equality survey in Canberra.
AAP

Flowers Vasette florist Brenton Alexander said he had noticed a boost in flower sales already.

"We celebrate love in all its forms and on the day the yes vote came in, we had so many people coming in and buying flowers to celebrate, we had some people coming in buying flowers and they were going home to propose to their partners as well," Mr Alexander said.

Mr Alexander himself was married in a civil ceremony in Copenhagen last year.

"I really doubted that we would ever be able to get married here and my partner and I have been together for over 25 years and that was part of our 25-year celebration," he said.

Only four MPs voted against legislating the same-sex marriage law - independent Bob Katter, and Liberals David Littleproud, Keith Pitt and Russell Broadbent.

Earlier in the debate, Mr Katter, who opposed same-sex marriage, told parliament: "Gay means beautiful, light, attractive, ethereal ... they took the word gay off us and now they are taking the word marriage off us."

 - With additional reporting by Natasha Christian.