Australia Has Voted in Favor of Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage

On Tuesday, Australians voted overwhelmingly in favor of same-sex marriage, paving the way for the Australian parliament to officially legalize same-sex marriage, The New York Times reports.

Following the vote, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called for same-sex marriage to be legalized before Christmas. "The Australian people have spoken, and they have voted overwhelmingly 'yes' for marriage equality," Turnbull said. "They voted 'yes' for fairness, they voted 'yes' for commitment, they voted 'yes' for love."

12.7 million Australians took part in voting in the survey, which is roughly 79.5 percent of the voting-age population in the country. 61.6 percent of them voted yes and 38.4 voted no, according to the Times

People celebrated with confetti and rainbow-colored smoke in Melbourne after the result of the vote was announced, with hundreds of people cheering and tearfully hugging. 

"This is our proudest moment as gay and lesbian Australians," Chris Lewis, an artist celebrating in Melbourne, told the Times. "Finally I can be proud of my country."

While the vote only paves the way for marriage equality and doesn't necessarily guarantee legalization, Dean Smith, an Australian federal senator, said he had plans to immediately introduce a bill in Parliament, and that he believes it will have enough votes to pass legislation. Legalizing gay marriage would make Australia one of the last English-speaking countries in the world to finally allow marriage equality, CNN reports.