By David Meyer
December 7, 2017

Australia will become the 26th country in the world to allow same-sex marriages, after its parliament overwhelmingly backed the move.

The change, which will formally hit the statutes on Saturday, comes after Australians voted in a voluntary postal survey to introduce marriage equality, with 61.6% of voters agreeing to let people of the same sex marry.

The first same-sex marriages will be able to take place in January, as couples in Australia must give 28 days’ notice of their impending nuptials.

Thursday’s vote in the Federal Parliament was a landslide, with all but four members of parliament supporting the change or abstaining. Abstainers included former prime minister Tony Abbott, whose government had promised to let the country decide the issue.

The vote overturned legislation passed 13 years ago, under the premiership of John Howard, that explicitly defined marriage as “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others.”

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, MPs crossed the chamber after the vote to embrace one another, while the public galleries “sustained rapturous applause for several minutes and eventually burst into a rendition of I Am, You Are, We Are Australian.”

“It’s time for more marriages, more commitment, more love, more respect,” said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The parliamentary vote came a couple days after one member, Tim Wilson, became the first person to propose to someone in the legislative chamber—his long-term partner, Ryan Bolger, who said yes.

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