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37 Things That Happened During The Senate's Colourful Same-Sex Marriage Debate

"Like the search for the bunyip, the search for the homophobic florist goes relentlessly and unavailingly on."

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1. Dean Smith's speech – the first one to be heard on the bill.

Liberal senator @DeanSmithWA tears up as he introduces a bill to legalise same-sex marriage into Australian parliam…

2. Murray Watt's description of the moment Penny Wong broke down after the "yes" vote was announced.

Dean Lewins / AAPIMAGE

"One of the many photos that were circulated as the celebrations ensued yesterday was a photo of a number of Labor senators celebrating this as the news came out," Watt told the Senate.

"I was looking at that photo and at the centre of it, as she rightly should have been, was senator Wong breaking down in tears, as she did in many photos that day. I looked at the photo and at who was around her.

"We had a gay, Asian woman; a gay Caucasian woman, Senator Pratt; an Aboriginal elder, Senator Dodson; a mischievous young Iranian migrant, Senator Dastyari; and lots of straight, white Aussies standing around celebrating. I thought to myself: that's Australia. That's modern Australia, and this bill reflects modern Australia."

3. A gracious-in-defeat Cory Bernardi.

"I want to extend my congratulations to the 'yes' campaign. What matters in the end is how the Australian people vote and you had an overwhelming victory," he told the Senate on November 16.

Bernardi said he stood by his argument that there are unintended consequences to same-sex marriage, and asked senators to be mindful of the concerns of "humble no voters", saying they are "not motivated by malice".

"For 10 years in this place, I've said that there are encroachments along the way and I've been trying to push back against some of them. I can't push back against this one.

"I can only say, 'Let's think of the principles, of the freedoms that have built our country and made it fantastic'.

"I have nothing but goodwill to you, to the same-sex couples who want to get married. Get married, have fun, do what you want to do; I hope you all have at least as happy a time as I've had in my 21 years of marriage."'

4. This delightful clanger from Glenn Sterle.

He didn't disappoint. Another cracker of a speech from heterosexual @GlennSterle.


5. This rainbow shirt from Anne Urquhart.

Anne Urquhart is wearing the most incredible rainbow shirt to debate the marriage equality bill

8. Labor senator Jenny McAllister talking about the impact of the postal survey on the LGBTI community.

.@jennymcallister's assessment of the postal survey, from earlier today:


10. In principle being rather important – because the very next morning, shadow attorney general Mark Dreyfus said that no Labor senator actually wanted to vote for any of the amendments.

"No Labor senator, and I include in that senator Polley, has sought a conscience vote on any of the amendments," he said. "And I think if you look carefully at what senator Polley had to say, she and other senators – and that includes every member of the Labor Caucus – are concerned about religious freedoms. But we would say that the proper place and the proper time for considering those religious freedoms questions is in the process that has been set up by the prime minister, which is this panel to be chaired by Phillip Ruddock."

11. Liberal senator David Bushby giving his blessing to unofficial gay weddings – but not to same-sex marriage.

"The bottom line is that the only so-called right that same-sex attracted couples do not currently have under Commonwealth law is to receive a piece of paper on Commonwealth letterhead. As such, there is nothing in the law now that stops them declaring their love for each other, holding a wedding, calling themselves married and living as a married couple. They just won't have a piece of paper saying so."

12. Peter Whish-Wilson's incredibly deadpan recitation of the ENTIRE SONG "Under Pressure", by Queen and Bowie.

Facebook: video.php

14. One Nation senator Brian Burston telling the Senate he never received his survey form, so didn't vote.

One Nation senator Brian Burston tells the Senate he never received his form, so didn't vote in the same-sex marria…

15. Labor's Jacinta Collins contending it is "absolute poppycock!" that only the Coalition cares about religious freedom.


16. George Brandis' speech about what marriage equality will mean for young gay people.

"We are saying to those vulnerable young people - there is nothing wrong with you. You are not unusual, you are not…


18. The moment it became clear the bill would likely pass with no amendments.

A quick stocktake: The conservative amendments are absolutely tanking in the Senate tonight. Bloc of some govt sena…


22. Abetz describing conservative senators as a "loose but quality" group, before dragging Derryn Hinch for "talking on behalf of gay people".

Abetz is now criticising Hinch for talking on behalf of gay people "There are many gay people who voted no... his…

23. A lengthy argument about Labor senators who don't say "The Lord's Prayer", and whether it's OK to sledge them for it (it is not).

Senate, 29/11/2017, p.2 Senator Hanson (QLD) #auspol


26. Seriously guys Wednesday morning was so unproductive.

28. Said amendment getting absolutely trounced when it came to a vote.

Breaking: The "bakers and florists amendment" – to exempt businesses from anti-discrimination law – has been DEFEATED in the Senate. 5-37.


29. Penny Wong's final contribution.

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31. Janet Rice's message to trans and gender diverse people.

Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

"I've been proud to stand up in this chamber for the whole rainbow spectrum: for lesbian and gay people, for bisexual people, but particularly for trans people and gender-diverse people as well as intersex people," she said.

"Trans people and gender-diverse people have suffered incredible vilification and hatred being directed to them, particularly over the last two months. In fact, the attacks on them have continued in this chamber right up until this morning. So, yes, trans people deserve to be loved as well. Trans people are normal; trans people are equal. They are part of our wonderful family. I am very privileged to be here representing trans people in particular."

32. The parliament house microphones encroaching on Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm's free speech.

Leyonhjelm stands up and very LOUD MICROPHONE NOISES START HAPPENING. Everyone is laughing.


33. Senators and the public gallery applauding for various lesbian, gay, or bisexual politicians who spoke – Wong, Smith, Rice and Louise Pratt.

34. This moment.

Here's the moment the Australian Senate voted to legalise same-sex marriage.

37. The official record of a house in the Australian parliament voting in favour of same-sex marriage — for the very first time.

Here's the ayes and noes of the Senate vote on the same-sex marriage bill.

Next week, the bill will be debated in the House of Representatives. If you would like to read the Senate Hansard of this historical debate, here are the links:

November 16

November 27

November 28

November 29

Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Lane Sainty at

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