Australian Senate follows second chamber in defeating equal marriage

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A vote on a bill that would have introduced equal marriage rights for same-sex couples has been defeated in the Australian Senate.

With the House of Representatives rejecting Labor MP Stephen Jones’ bill 98-42 earlier in the week, the Senate rejected a similar bill from Labor Senator Trish Crossin 26-41 yesterday afternoon.

The defeat in both chambers was expected, on Tuesday, Finance Minister Penny Wong was seeking to down play expectations.

Although Senator Wong’s own boss, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has staunchly opposed supporting equal marriage, Ms Wong is blaming opposition leader Tony Abbott for the defeats.

Ms Wong said after the vote that the parliament had “failed Australians”.

“Sadly, the opposition was not allowed a conscience vote on this very important issue and I believe that, had Mr Abbott shown some leadership and allowed a free vote, the result may have been much different”.

Mr Abbott said the defeat in the Senate had now settled the matter at least for the life of the current federal parliament.

“I think we should let the dust settle before we come back to it,” AAP reports.

Senate President John Hogg told the chamber he had a deep-seated belief that marriage was between a man and woman.

“To decry my views is to seek to discriminate against me,” he said.

Australian Marriage Equality national convener Rodney Croome said many same-sex couples would feel betrayed that the federal parliament had failed to support equal marriage.

“But I take heart from the fact that the last time the Senate voted on marriage equality in 2009 only six Senators voted in favour and today that number has increased four-fold,” he said.

Mr Croome also pointed out that the Tasmanian Upper House will vote next week on a state equal marriage bill that has already passed the lower house and other states are now making similar moves.