Australian PM says government aims to legalize same-sex marriage by year-end

A cross-party group of senators - led by Liberal Dean Smith and supported by senior Labour figure Penny Wong, amongst others - will introduce a private bill to the upper house today afternoon.

Australia is learning whether the public supports same sex marriage, as the results come back from their non-binding vote. "And now it is up to us here in the parliament of Australia to get on with it".

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his government would now aim to make it law by Christmas.

Thousands of people in a Sydney park broke into a loud cheer, hugged and cried as Australia's chief statistician revealed live over a big screen that 61.6 percent of voters surveyed favoured marriage equality, with 38.4 percent against.

"We will now do what we can to guard against restrictions on freedom of speech and freedom of religion, to defend parents" rights, and to protect Australian kids from being exposed to radical LGBTIQ sex and gender education in the classrooms, ' he said. "It is unequivocal, it is overwhelming", he said. "They have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality", Turnbull told reporters in Canberra after the survey results were announced.

Celebrities, some of whom are from Australia and some of whom aren't, had been encouraging Australians to vote yes, so they were excited about the outcome.

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A marriage equality bill was introduced into parliament later on Wednesday.

"It's a g'day. Way to go Australia", tweeted U.S. TV host Ellen DeGeneres, who is married to Australian actress Portia de Rossi in the United States.

"We promise our supporters that no matter the result, we will continue to work to defend Australian families", he said.

'I very much look forward to that'. Around three-quarters of the electorate - more than 12.6 million people - took part.

While Smith bill already allows churches to refuse to Wednesday same-sex couples, the Paterson bill would have allowed anyone with a religious or moral objection to refuse to participate in the process - including florists, bakers and musicians.

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