National News

PM promises same-sex marriage by Christmas

Gay Australians could be married before Christmas after the country overwhelmingly endorsed same-sex marriage and brought a community "in from the cold".

It's up to MPs now to legislate on same-sex marriage in the two weeks of parliament left for the year but they've been warned to get it done without playing politics.

"Any of them, on either side of politics, if they play around with this issue any longer it will be at their own peril," Olympic swimming champion and 'yes' campaigner Ian Thorpe said amid celebrations in Sydney on Wednesday.

Thorpe was among thousands who burst into cheers and tears at Prince Alfred Park when they heard Australia's chief statistician reveal 61.6 per cent of participants voted in favour of same-sex marriage in the voluntary postal survey.

A majority 'yes' vote was recorded in 133 of 150 federal electorates across the country.

"I bloody love you Australia," comedian Magda Szubanski screamed after hearing the result, which was quickly followed by champagne corks popping in the park, rainbow flags flying high and a proposal.

"Australia said yes and he said yes," said the man in the pink suit after going down on bended knee.

A tearful Szubanski thanked Australia on behalf of the gay community: "One of the most vilified groups in history and finally the broader community has welcomed us in from the cold," she said.

And while Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce celebrated the "amazing outcome", he told Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to get on with the task.

"We now expect it, we need it to be delivered and we need it to be delivered fast. Get on and do it Mr Turnbull," he told the crowd, arm in arm with partner Shane Lloyd.

And the prime minister, himself a 'yes' advocate, has vowed to comply, setting Christmas as the target.

"We asked them for their opinion and they have given it to us. It is unequivocal, it is overwhelming," he told reporters in Canberra.

"It is our job now to get on with it and get this done."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten gave one promise to a joyous crowd outside Melbourne's State Library: "Today we celebrate, tomorrow we legislate."

The process began immediately.

Liberal Senator Dean Smith's bill, which Mr Turnbull says is a good starting point and has the support of Labor and the Greens, was put to the senate on Wednesday.

Attorney-General George Brandis expects the Senate to deal with the bill by November 30

While Labor rejoiced in the 'yes" victory, the party's heartland in western Sydney produced a swathe of staunch 'no' votes, creating a dilemma for the MPs who have vowed to legislate same-sex marriage while also representing their constituents.

Of the 17 federal electorates which voted 'no', eight were Labor seats in Sydney's west and southwest, with Blaxland recording a 73.9 per vote against.

No campaigners were disappointed with the outcome and vowed to respect the result but some still feared for the repercussions.

"While I do not deny the good will of many who voted 'yes', I am deeply disappointed the likely result will be legislation to further deconstruct marriage and family in Australia," Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher said.

'No' campaigner Tony Abbott rang to congratulate his sister Christine Forster who quickly announced she would marry partner Virginia Edwards in February.

The former prime minister said he would not obstruct the legislation.

"I am not going to vote against this. I'm not going to frustrate the will of the public," he said.

© AAP 2017

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