Australia Votes YES: What Happens Now?

When will same-sex marriage become law?

Australia Votes YES: What Happens Now?

The result is in and as expected, the YES vote has won.

61.6% of Aussies have voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics announced the result of the postal survey this morning, revealing 12,727,920 people voted across the country. Which is a 79.5 response rate.

Nearly 75 per cent of people in the Newcastle electorate voted YES, the fifth highest number in NSW.

67 per cent of Shortland voters voted YES, while it was 65 per cent in Paterson and 64 per cent in the seat of Hunter, all above the national vote.

In total 372,282 people voted in the survey across the four electorates.

However the result doesn't mean same-sex couples can marry straight away.

"Despite the large amount of money spent on this we're still in precisely the same position legally and constitutionally that we always would have been. We have to have an Act go through parliament, get through both houses of parliament, receive royal assent and come into effect," said Professor Carolyn Evans, University of Melbourne

"So, the politics have changed a lot, but it's still the same process we always would have had."

How does it come into effect?

- The $122 million postal vote is non-compulsory and non-binding. It has legally changed nothing about the debate and does not force any MP to vote any particular way. In legal terms we are still at step one.

- The first stepping stone to passing a law is voting on a bill: this has not been done yet.

- Malcolm Turnbull has promised to legalise this by Christmas, however the Conservative faction of his party may draw out the issue on the basis of religious freedoms

- Liberal MP and YES campaigner Dean Smith has drafted a bill which has been discussed but not voted on - this is the bill expected to be introduced. The thing threatening to draw this out is conservatives who think the bill does not provide enough religious freedoms.

- Parliament finishes sitting on December 7.

SO: Private member's bill > first reading > second reading > committee stage (debate, amendments) > third stage (bill voted on) > Upper House (process repeated) > Governor General gives royal assent > bill becomes an act of parliament > act becomes law

What needs to change?

- In 2004, the Howard government changed the Marriage Act to explicitly define the institution as between a "man and a woman". This is how they overturned the ACT legalising SSM several years ago and would need to be amended.

What does it change for LGBTQI couples?

- The institution of marriage significantly improves the legal rights of couples, for example: In hospital a LGBTQI person would have a much more powerful legal right to make medical decisions for their partner; it would be easier for them to gain custody of their partner's children in the event of death or accident; they will be able to claim life insurance as a spouse.