The majority voted in favour of a motion to read the Marriage Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2012 for a second time. This means that the majority of senators reject the main idea of the bill, which was to recognise same-sex marriages.

This means that the bill will not be considered any further.

Debate in Parliament

This bill was introduced as a private senator’s bill by Labor Party Senator Patricia Crossin. It had the support of the Greens Party. The Labor Party was given a conscience vote on it, resulting in Labor senators voting both for and against. The Liberal Party uniformly opposed it.

A key feature of the debate was disagreement as to whether the current marriage law was discriminatory. Supporters of the bill such as Senator Crossin argued that the current law “discriminates against same-sex couples by prohibiting them access to marriage”.(Read Senator Crossin's contribution here. ) Opponents of the bill such as Senator George Brandis disagreed, saying that any discrimination against same-sex couples was removed with bi-partisan support by the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – General Law Reform) Bill 2008 and the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws - Superannuation) Bill 2008.(Read Senator Brandis' contribution here. )

Background to the Bill

Senator Crossin, who introduced the bill in the name of herself and three other Labor colleagues, highlighted the unusual nature of this bill. That is, although it is not a government piece of legislation, it is “a piece of legislation that has been moved by four members of a government”.(Read Senator Crossin's contribution here. )

The bill aims to enable same-sex couples to marry under Australian law.(More information about this bill can be found here.) However, a minister of religion would not have been obliged to solemnise a same-sex marriage.


Votes Not passed by a small majority

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Australian Greens (100% turnout) 9 Yes 0 No
Richard Di Natale Victoria Yes
Sarah Hanson-Young SA Yes
Scott Ludlam WA Yes
Christine Milne Tasmania Yes
Lee Rhiannon NSW Yes
Rachel Siewert WA Yes
Larissa Waters Queensland Yes
Peter Whish-Wilson Tasmania Yes
Penny Wright SA Yes
Australian Labor Party (87% turnout) 16 Yes 10 No
Carol Brown Tasmania Yes
Doug Cameron NSW Yes
Kim Carr Victoria Yes
Trish Crossin NT Yes
Chris Evans WA Yes
John Faulkner NSW Yes
Kate Lundy ACT Yes
Gavin Marshall Victoria Yes
Anne McEwen SA Yes
Jan McLucas Queensland Yes
Claire Moore Queensland Yes
Louise Pratt WA Yes
Matt Thistlethwaite NSW Yes
Lin Thorp Tasmania Yes
Anne Urquhart Tasmania Yes
Penny Wong SA Yes
Catryna Bilyk Tasmania No
Mark Bishop WA No
Jacinta Collins Victoria No
Stephen Conroy Victoria No
Don Farrell SA No
Mark Furner Queensland No
Alex Gallacher SA No
Helen Polley Tasmania No
Ursula Stephens NSW No
Glenn Sterle WA No
Bob Carr NSW Absent
David Feeney Victoria Absent
Joe Ludwig Queensland Absent
Lisa Singh Tasmania Absent
Nigel Scullion NT Country Liberal Party No
John Madigan Victoria Democratic Labor Party No
Stephen Parry Tasmania Deputy President No
Nick Xenophon SA Independent Yes
Liberal Party (81% turnout) 0 Yes 22 No
Eric Abetz Tasmania No
Christopher Back WA No
David Bushby Tasmania No
Michaelia Cash WA No
Richard Colbeck Tasmania No
Mathias Cormann WA No
Sean Edwards SA No
Alan Eggleston WA No
David Fawcett SA No
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells NSW No
Mitch Fifield Victoria No
Bill Heffernan NSW No
Gary Humphries ACT No
David Johnston WA No
Helen Kroger Victoria No
Ian Macdonald Queensland No
Brett Mason Queensland No
Marise Payne NSW No
Michael Ronaldson Victoria No
Scott Ryan Victoria No
Arthur Sinodinos NSW No
Dean Smith WA No
Cory Bernardi SA Absent
Simon Birmingham SA Absent
Sue Boyce Queensland Absent
George Brandis Queensland Absent
Anne Ruston SA Absent
National Party (100% turnout) 0 Yes 5 No
Ron Boswell Queensland No
Barnaby Joyce Queensland No
Bridget McKenzie Victoria No
Fiona Nash NSW No
John Williams NSW No
John Hogg Queensland President No
Totals (88% turnout) 26 Yes – 41 No