In a postal vote referendum, 61.6 percent of Australians cast their votes in favor of same-sex marriage. The Australian Bureau of Statistics announced the results Wednesday.
Although the Australian parliament is not bound to recognize the result, the government is already pledging to move forward with legislation legalizing gay marriage within the next month, BBC News reports.
If it does so, Australia will become the 25th country to legalize married unions between same-sex couples. The U.S. legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, while Canada did so in 2005.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull applauded the referendum results, promising his government would now aim to change the law in parliament:
“[Australians] have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality,” Turnbull said after the result was announced.
“They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love. And now it is up to us here in the parliament of Australia to get on with it.”
But Liberal PM Turnbull has a challenge ahead of him to whip his coalition caucus into agreement. Many of his socially conservative caucus remain opposed to same-sex marriage and say that, at least, marriage officiates should be allowed to opt-out of same-sex marriage ceremonies if they are opposed on religious grounds.
Same-sex marriage advocates are proclaiming victory. “The simple message now is: pass the law,” said Tiernan Brady, leader of the Marriage Equality campaign. “It’s a simple law that takes nothing from anybody; it comes at no cost and will be profoundly positive for the LGBTIQ people.”