The Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) bill, which, if passed, will formally change the Marriage Act to legalise same-sex marriage, is now progressing through the House of Representatives with a vote expected today.
If the House of Representatives supported such an amendment, then the altered bill would have to return to the Senate for ratification, delaying the reform.
13 years ago Australia changed the law to explicitly outlaw same-sex marriages.
"This is Australia: fair, diverse, loving and filled with respect for everyone", said an effusive Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, as he introduced the bill for a final vote.
"What a day for love, for equality, for respect", said.
The only potential obstacle to the law passing on Thursday would be if marriage equality opponents managed to amend the legislation. "And now it is up to us here in the parliament of Australia to get on with it".
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"Australia you have demonstrated you love us, we love you, let's hope the politicians can be part of the love train, and later on let's party", she said. "This is a great day, it belongs to every Australian".
In a particularly poignant moment, the ministers on the House floor and guests in the gallery began singing "I am, you are, we are Australian".
"We thank all Australians for their support for saying yes, we thank all those who have campaigned for many years, for over 10 years, for fairness and equality".
"It's a historic day for Australia today and I think the celebrations around the country when we finally ... achieve marriage equality are going to be vast", Greens party senator Janet Rice said. More than 12 million people participated.
Five lawmakers have registered their opposition to Australia's bill allowing same-sex marriage across the nation.
A nonbinding postal survey found that 62 percent of Australian respondents wanted gay marriage to be legal.
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