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Wednesday December 13th, 2017 3:53PM

The Latest: Australian Parliament OKs same-sex marriage

By The Associated Press
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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Latest on Australia's vote to allow same-sex marriage (all times local):

5 p.m.

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.

___

3 p.m.

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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