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Australian Senate rejects public vote on gay marriage

Associated Press Associated Press 7/11/2016

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia's Senate on Monday rejected a government plan to hold a public vote on recognizing gay marriage.

The Senate voted by a margin of 33 to 29 against holding the non-binding public plebiscite on same-sex marriage which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's conservative government had planned for Feb. 11.

Marriage equality opponents had supported the plan while most gay marriage advocates had opposed it, warning it would spark a divisive public debate.

A lesbian opposition senator Penny Wong had argued against holding the plebiscite, telling parliament it would denigrate her family.

Most marriage equality advocates want Parliament to decide the issue without a public vote. The government has yet to say whether it will allow lawmakers to decide whether same-sex marriages will be recognized.

The public vote would have carried no legal weight and lawmakers would still have had to change the law in Parliament. Some government lawmakers had said they would vote down gay marriage in Parliament even if a majority of Australians voted for marriage equality.

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