Australians have given same-sex marriage a resounding "yes," in a historic nationwide poll, with nearly 62 percent of registered voters approving the measure.
Although the mail-in poll is non-binding, it nonetheless ensures that Parliament will consider ensconcing the popular sentiment as law — a bill to do just that was introduced in the Senate late Wednesday after the results of the poll became known.
Australians "have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said following the announcement of results. "They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love."
The Sydney Morning Herald reports: "In Sydney, thousands gathered in Prince Alfred Park on Wednesday morning to hear their country's answer to a permission many believed they should never have been forced to seek."
When the results were announced, the newspaper says, "The crowd jumped with ecstasy, and relief. Rainbow flags blurred with the sky with a frenzy. Couples grasped one another in long embraces, tears streaming down their cheeks."
Tanna Winter, 30, was having a celebratory beer in the capital, Canberra, where the "yes" vote was strongest. "The polls said that Brexit wouldn't happen, the polls said that Hillary would win and I sort of thought this felt like Australia's time to show everyone that we're backward too," Winter was quoted by The Associated Press as saying.
Turnbull's conservative government said it planned to debate a bill creating marriage equality in Parliament before Christmas.
As NPR's Bill Chappell wrote in August, "During last year's election, Turnbull had vowed to let the people decide the issue; his Labor Party opponent had promised to introduce same-sex marriage legislation in Parliament."