Numbers vital in getting gay marriage across the line

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"That's the goal", Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull vowed ahead of the Australian Bureau of Statistics announcing on Tuesday which way more than 12 million people voted on the issue.

Liberal senator James Paterson has revealed the details of a marriage equality bill he has been working on, with the support of conservative politicians who opposed the reform, which would allow gay couples to marry while also inserting broad exemptions to anti-discrimination law to allow businesses to refuse service to same sex weddings.

In the case of a no result, the issue of same-sex marriage will be ruled out of parliament for the remainder of the Coalition's term, as well as the next, should they remain in government.

Government ministers instead backed the Smith bill, which legalises same-sex marriage while providing a moderate level of exemptions for religious organisations, and is backed by Labor, the Greens and others.

The bill would also guarantee the right of parents to opt their children out of school classes that conflicted with their values.

Senator Smith last night exclusively told The Sunday Times his Marriage Amendment (Definitions and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 would be tabled in Parliament the next day.

"If it's legally and morally wrong to discriminate against one gay person, I don't know how it becomes right to discriminate against two", Brandis said.

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"We will wait to see what the final bill looks like before we give a firm commitment as to how we will vote".

Senator Smith said he respected the right of "every parliamentarian" to bring legislation and amendments to Parliament, but believed his Bill was the best way forward.

The proposed bill has been heavily criticised by supporters of gay marriage with Alex Greenwich, co-chair of Australian Marriage Equality, claiming it has the potential to "divide Australians".

The high response - Ireland's national referendum on marriage equality had a 60.5% turnout - has many believing it points to a win for the "Yes" campaign.

Labor senator Sam Dastyari said Senator Paterson was being taken for a ride.

"We do not want a dictatorship of the majority in this country".

"What you have is a young fogie being led astray by some old fogies".

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