Australia's government has turned thumbs down on a proposal that would have legalised same-sex marriage, but backers of the bill say they will continue to fight.
BBC Australian members of parliament overwhelmingly rejected the proposal to legalise same-sex marriages, following a heated debate that resulted in one senator resigning a key post after he made controversial remark about the issue.
The House of Representatives voted 98 to 42 against the bill. Most Labor party MPs were allowed to vote according to their conscience rather than voting along party lines, and the opposition voted against it. Both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbot voted against the legislation.
MP Cory Bernardi had to resign from his role as parliamentary secretary after suggesting legalised same-sex marriage could lead to the legalisation of bestiality and polygamy. He told parliament, ''There are even some creepy people out there, who say that it is OK to have consensual sexual relations between humans and animals. Will that be a future step?" His resignation letter didn't contain a clarification of his statement or an apology.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott accepted Bernardi's resignation, telling reporters, ''I was concerned about what Cory said in the Senate last night and then he compounded that by going unnecessarily on to radio this morning to repeat the matter, I swiftly concluded that was one mistake too many.''
The Senate is also debating another private member's bill to legalise same-sex marriage but it is expected to be defeated this week.
Two states are making moves to endorse same-sex marriage, even though the marriage act itself, is in federal jurisdiction. In New South Wales, which includes Sydney, MPs are drafting legislation to recognize same-sex marriage. A similar bill in Tasmania passed in the lower house of the state parliament in August and it now goes to the upper house, next week.
Australian Marriage Equality national convenor, Alex Greenwich, remains optimistic despite this new setback, "Now the federal parliament has effectively brushed the wishes of a majority of Australians aside, the states and territories will take the lead, making me confident we will see same-sex marriages performed somewhere in Australia by the end of the year."
Liberal backbencher Stephen Jones, who introduced the private member's bill, is telling gay marriage supporters to "maintain your rage." "I'm quite confident in about 10 years' time some or all of us are going to be attending a wedding, a same-sex marriage, that will be both conducted and recognised here in Australia. Change is inevitable."