Same-sex marriage bill introduced to parliament as rival bill gets scrapped

Draft laws to legalise same-sex marriage have been introduced to parliament, with a group of cross-party senators supporting Liberal senator Dean Smith's bill.

The private senator's bill was introduced to the Senate on Wednesday after the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced a 61.6 per cent 'yes' vote in support of changing the Marriage Act.

The bill proposed by Liberal Senator Dean Smith received overwhelming support from Labor, the Greens and several crossbench senators.

The same-sex marriage bill has been introduced to the parliament by Liberal Senator Dean Smith (third from left). Source: AAP
Those in Adelaide braved the weather for the announcement. Source: AAP

Senator Dean Smith's bill proposes to change the definition of marriage under the Marriage Act from "a man and a woman" to "two people".

Debate on the same-sex marriage legislation is due to start in the upper house on Thursday, with Attorney-General George Brandis expecting the Senate will deal with it by the end of the next sitting week on November 30.

At least two conservative Senators have announced they will try to amend Dean Smith's proposed bill to allow for conscientious objections to gay marriage.

Tears are flowing in Sydney. Source: AAP

Senator James Paterson had proposed a rival bill which would allow religious celebrants to refuse to marry gay couples and allow religious organisations to refuse same-sex weddings in their buildings and function halls.

But his bill has reportedly been strangled in the cradle and is unlikely to come before the parliament.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wants the parliament to approve same-sex marriage laws before Christmas.

The party has started for 'yes' voters in Melbourne. Source: AAP

“It is our job now to get on with it, and get this done,” Turnbull said after outcome was announced.

“I say to all Australians, whatever your views on this issue may be, we must respect the voice of the people.

“We asked them for their opinion and they have given it to us. It is unequivocal, it is overwhelming.”