Australia’s parliament voted against recognizing “gay marriage” by a wide margin on Sept. 19.
Chris Meney, Director of the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Life, Marriage and Family Center, said the “overwhelming vote” in favor of marriage between a man and a woman is “greatly welcomed.”
“It is also a vote affirming the truth of how marriage has always been understood,” he said, according to the Archdiocese of Sydney.
The Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 was defeated Wednesday by a vote of 98-42.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard of the Australian Labor Party did not vote in favor of the legislation, nor did opposition leader Tony Abbott. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd changed his position and voted against the bill. However, many cabinet members voted in favor of the bill.
Anthony Albanese, a backer of the defeated bill, said the vote was far more successful than it would have been several years before.
“All the figures show that there is majority community support on this issue,” he told Agence France-Presse. “I think at some future time, parliament will catch up with the community opinion.”
Francine Pirola of the Australian Marriage and Family Council told the Sydney archdiocese that marriage has been undermined by the debate over redefining marriage and by the “increasingly high” levels of divorce. She said people are “no longer sure what marriage is” and are “increasingly confused and uncertain” about the nature of marriage.
“The messages people are hearing today is that marriage may be for life, or it might not be,” Pirola said. “They are also hearing that marriage can be for the procreation of children but that this is not mandatory or even important.”
The debate over the bill grew heated at times.
Liberal Party Senator Cory Bernardi, a vocal opponent of the bill, was forced to resign as parliamentary secretary following controversy over his remarks that questioned whether “gay marriage” would lead to the recognition of polygamy and the mainstreaming of more deviant sexual practices.
Five of Australia’s six states have legal recognition for same-sex unions. However, marriage falls under federal law.
A second federal bill that would remove “references based on sexual orientation and gender identity” and allow marriage “regardless of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity” is also expected to be defeated.
The 2011 census found 33,714 same-sex couples in the country. That census was the first to allow same-sex couples to describe themselves as “married,” but only 1,338 chose to do so.
Cardinal George Pell of Sydney and 19 other leaders of Christian denominations in Australia have signed a statement calling on Parliament to protect marriage as a union of a man and a woman, the “natural basis of the family.”
“We honor the unique love between husbands and wives; the vital place of fathers and mothers in the life of children; and the corresponding ideal for all children to know the love and role modeling of a father and mother,” said the denominational leaders and over 260 other pastors and leaders.