Same-sex marriage bill clears Australia’s Senate

By Reuters Staff

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s upper house Senate on Wednesday passed a measure to legalize same-sex marriage, perhaps as soon as next week, after lawmakers dismissed a conservative push to allow religious objectors to refuse service to same-sex couples.

Australians overwhelmingly endorsed legalizing same-sex marriage in a postal survey run by the national statistics agency and the bill easily passed the Senate by 43 votes to 12.

Conservative lawmakers had pressed for broad protections for religious objectors, among them florists, bakers and musicians, to refuse service to same-sex couples.

But amendments for lay celebrants to refuse to solemnize same-sex marriages and permitting caterers opposed to the unions to refuse service at wedding receptions were either defeated or abandoned during two days of debate in the senate, where same-sex marriage supporters are in the majority.

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