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NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – Australia is now the 26th nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

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A packed public gallery in Parliament House at Canberra broke into cheers and then song, after the law passed on Thursday, with fewer than five of 150 members voting against it.

It was a watershed moment for a country where some states held homosexual activity to be illegal until twenty years ago.

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Speaking in parliament, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared, “what a day. What a day for love, for equality, for respect,” adding that “it is time for more marriages.”

Lawmakers, who had cast aside a conservative push to allow religious objectors to refuse service to same-sex couples, waved rainbow flags and embraced on the floor of the chamber, where earlier in the debate a politician had proposed to his same-sex partner on Monday.

The laws, which will also recognize same-sex marriages from other countries, will take effect this Saturday, December 9th.

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Because a month’s notice is required for the state to recognize a marriage, the first legal same-sex unions will be in January.