Australia votes to legalize same-sex marriage

MELBOURNE, Australia — Celebrations broke out across Australia after a two-month national postal survey came out “overwhelmingly” in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.

Results released Wednesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed 61 percent of the population voted to allow same-sex marriage, with 38 percent voting against.

Rainbow-colored smoke, confetti and cheers erupted in the center of Melbourne following the announcement, where hundreds of people had gathered to hear the result.

When couple Jane Mahoney, 28, and Josie Lennie, 26, heard the result they collapsed into each others’ arms in tears.

“(Now) we need to save and also gets lots of fun ideas from the other gay weddings,” they said.

More than 12.7 million people across the country, or 79.5 percent of the population, took part in the survey with every state and territory returning a majority “yes.”

Celebrations, singing and tears greeted the announcement in Melbourne.

It’s the beginning of the end of a long-running campaign to allow marriage equality in Australia, something already legal in the majority of English-speaking countries worldwide.

Speaking after the result, Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it had been an “overwhelming” response in favor of “yes” and called for same-sex marriage to be legalized before Christmas.

“They voted ‘yes’ for fairness, they voted ‘yes’ for commitment, they voted ‘yes’ for love. And now it is up to us here in the Parliament of Australia to get on with it,” he told reporters in Canberra.

Opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten told the Melbourne rally the postal vote itself should never have happened.

“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,” he said.

Politicians are expected to begin discussing the specifics of the same-sex marriage bill as early as this week.

However, even ahead of the release of the results, conservative politicians inside the Australian parliament were preparing for a fight over how marriage equality would be legalized.

Prominent supporters of same-sex marriage celebrated the decision. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce danced on stage in Sydney with author and actor Magda Szubanski, and urged Turnbull to “get on with it.”

Australian Olympic champion Ian Thorpe warned conservative politicians against delaying the legislation.

“(The result) spells it out loud and clear. … If they play around with this issue any longer, it will be at their peril,” he said.