The federal Senate has joined the House of Representatives in voting down a marriage equality bill, this time in a vote 26 to 41.
There had been hope the Senate might come close to the numbers needed to approve the private members’ bill sponsored by Labor backbenchers.
Coalition senators were denied a conscience vote, similar to their party counterparts in the Lower House, but Liberal senator Sue Boyce did speak in favour of the bill today. She was not present for the vote.
A number of Labor senators, including Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, also voted against the bill.
Openly gay senator Penny Wong, who voted in favour of the bill, released a statement shortly after the vote, saying the Parliament had failed Australians by not supporting marriage equality and voting against the removal of discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexuality.
“It is disappointing on many levels,” she said.
“But, despite the results in both the House of Representatives and the Senate this week, I believe we have achieved a great deal. Since the Bill has been in the Parliament, our number of supporters has grown.
“But where the federal Parliament has failed, the states are taking big steps towards equality.
“To the many supporters of marriage equality, I encourage you to continue to campaign for marriage equality in each state and federally.”
In her contribution to the Senate on Wednesday, Wong said many steps towards equality in Australia were not won the first time.
“Many were achieved only after years of action and of activism. But the aspiration for equality is persistent, and it cannot be denied forever,” she said.