Australia Votes for Gay Marriage, Clearing Path to Legalization

“This is our proudest moment as gay and lesbian Australians,” said Chris Lewis, 60, an artist from Sydney, who waved a large rainbow flag he bought in San Francisco about 30 years ago. “Finally I can be proud of my country.”

But many Australians said it was also late in coming.

Annika Lowry, 42, who brought her 4-year-old daughter to the celebration, said the vote revealed a widening gap between Australia’s political class and voters who have been demanding same-sex marriage legislation for years.

“It was not just about us,” she said. “It’s for our kids, so that they know equality is important.”

Alex Greenwich, a state lawmaker from New South Wales and the co-chairman of Australian Marriage Equality, an advocacy group, said the vote “shows that Australians have truly come together in support of their gay and lesbian mates and have said that everybody should be able to have the freedom to marry.”

In calling for the national survey, Mr. Turnbull sought public backing for a shift in social policy that was opposed by many members of his center-right Liberal Party.

Mr. Turnbull voted yes, and he urged other Australians to do so as a matter of fairness, seeking to blunt opposition from far-right members of his party.

“My commitment was to give every Australian their say,” Mr. Turnbull said after the results were announced. “That has been done, they have spoken.”

He added: “Now it is up to us, here in the Parliament of Australia, to get on with it — to get on with the job the Australian people have tasked us to do, and get this done, this year, before Christmas.”

Dean Smith, a federal senator from the Liberal Party, who is gay, said that he would…

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