The moment Australia said 'yes'

You know something big has happened when a joyous croc hunter from far north Queensland lifts a rival politician in the air on the floor of parliament.

Veteran Liberal Warren Entsch, with a grin ear-to-ear, embraced Labor's Linda Burney as same-sex marriage became legal in Australia.

It summed up a unifying moment rarely seen in politics.

Entsch has championed the cause for years, but - in his own words - it had been a very lonely journey as a member of the coalition.

He was one of the five men who helped draft the private bill that finally became law on Thursday. The four others are openly gay.

Before the final vote, Entsch made special note of Burney's contribution to the debate in which she honoured her late gay son Binni who died in October.

It was one of the more emotional moments during an at-times divisive, but largely respectful, debate.

The tears of heartbreak in the hours and days earlier were replaced with tears of pure joy - on the faces of politicians from across the divide, the hundreds in the public galleries and even some media.

After a false start - the chamber prematurely erupted before the final stage - the bill's final passage prompted a second flurry of applause and cheers.

Hugs and kisses were given, rainbow flags were waved, and the tune "I Am Australian" sung.

There were few parliamentary protocols that weren't broken, but it was a moment that had been years in the making and one unlikely to be repeated.

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