The final signature has been obtained to make same-sex marriage legal in Australia starting Saturday.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull traveled to Government House where Governor-General Peter Cosgrove signed the bill into law Friday on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, Australia’s constitutional head of state.
The bill was overwhelming endorsed by Parliament with approval in the House of Representatives on Thursday, and Turnbull, a gay marriage supporter, rushed to make the bill law.
On Saturday, same-sex couples who wed overseas will be recognized under Australian law as married.
Couples intending to marry must give a calendar-month notice, making Jan. 9 the first date for weddings.
Five lawmakers have registered their opposition to Australia’s bill allowing same-sex marriage across the nation.
The bill passed Thursday by a majority that was not challenged, though the five lawmakers’ positions opposing the bill were recorded.
The bill changes the definition of marriage from a union between a man and a woman to “a union of two people.”
After royal assent and other formalities, the law will likely take effect in about a month.
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.
Gay rights advocates have celebrated outside Australia’s Parliament House in anticipation of same-sex marriage being legalized within hours.
Scores of men and women joined in singing on Thursday ahead of what is scheduled to be Parliament’s final sitting day of the year.
The House of Representatives is widely expected to vote to allow same-sex marriage across the nation.
The Senate passed the same legislation last week 43 votes to 12.
The only potential obstacle to the law passing on Thursday would be if marriage equality opponents managed to amend the legislation. The amended legislation would then have to go back to the Senate for ratification.
Gay marriage was endorsed by 62 percent of Australian voters who responded to a government-commissioned postal ballot last month.
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