The House of Representatives has voted down Labor MP Stephen Jones’ marriage equality bill in a vote of 42-98.
Labor MPs to vote against the bill included Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, Trade Minister Craig Emerson, Chief Whip Joel Fitzgibbon, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Defence Minister Robert McClelland, Kevin Rudd and Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan.
No Coalition MPs crossed the floor to vote in favour of the bill but former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull said he would have voted in favour of the bill if he was allowed a conscience vote.
Independents Rob Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie voted for the bill with Tony Windsor voting against.
Jones said that while his bill was voted down, the Australian public were still very much in support of change.
“Clearly we’ve won the debate in the Australian community. Over 62 percent of Australians believe that we should make laws to allow for marriage equality,” he told reporters.
“Unfortunately we haven’t won the debate in the Australian Parliament.
“In the words of another great Australian, ‘maintain your rage’, because I’m quite confident that in about 10 years’ time, some or all of us are going to be attending a same-sex marriage that will be both conducted and recognised here in Australia.”
Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Alex Greenwich said the vote was a big disappointment but that is was also an important step towards the final achievement of marriage equality.
“The vote showed how far we have come, with more MPs voting for reform than ever before,” he said.
“The passionate speakers for, and the extremists against, can only foster more support for marriage equality.
“The vote has embarrassed those Labor MPs who voted against, as well as the Coalition for not having a conscience vote.”
The Australian Christian Lobby instead thanked all MPs who “supported marriage” in today’s vote.
ACL managing director Jim Wallace said it had been a long debate and he believed the vast majority of Australians were keen to move on.
“I would like to thank the Opposition for keeping its election promise and for all those members of Labor who, as a matter of conscience, voted to ensure that marriage remained between a man and a woman,” Wallace said.