A private member's bill to amend the Marriage Act suffered a resounding 42-98 defeat in the House of Representatives.
A private member's bill to amend the Marriage Act suffered a resounding 42-98 defeat in the House of Representatives. Renee Pilcher

Gay marriage bill defeated

UPDATE: A Bill to legalise same-sex marriage has been defeated and an Opposition frontbencher who linked homosexuality to bestiality has been sacked during an eventful day in Canberra.

Labor backbencher Stephen Jones's private member's bill to amend the Marriage Act suffered a resounding 42-98 defeat in the House of Representatives.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard was one of five cabinet minister who voted against the bill, as did former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

Coalition MPs, who were denied a conscience vote on the matter, also voted against the legislation.

Just minutes before the vote, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott revealed he had dumped his shadow parliamentary secretary, South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi, from the frontbench after he made "ill-disciplined remarks" in the Senate on Tuesday night.

Senator Bernardi's comments drew widespread condemnation, including a stern rebuke from former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Turnbull, who supports marriage equality but voted against Mr Jones's bill, described Mr Bernardi's comments as "alarmist" and offensive".

"It's the worst sort of slippery slope argument," Mr Turnbull said.

Labor and Greens MPs lined up to voice their disgust over the comments, which came just a day after Nationals Senator Ron Boswell claimed during debate in the Senate same-sex couples were incapable of properly raising children.

Aware the bill in the House of Representatives house would be defeated, the Greens criticised the government's decision to bring on a vote, with Leader Christine Milne describing it as a "cynical move to get marriage equality off the agenda".

In the lower house Greens MP Adam Bandt, with the support of independents Andrew Wilkie and Rob Oakeshott, tried in vain to stop the vote proceeding.

Mr Bandt wanted to delay the vote until at least next year in the hope it would attract the required votes to pass.

He also claimed the government had sprung the vote on the house with less than one hour's notice.

It was a suggestion that raised the ire of leader of the house Anthony Albanese.

"I reject completely somehow this is a surprise," a clearly agitated Mr Albanese said, adding he had kept Mr Bandt informed at all times on the progress of the bill.

Mr Albanese, who voted for the bill, said the debate had been "exhausted".

He contributed to that debate earlier in the Federation Chamber where he argued the changes to the Marriage Act would make a significance difference to the lives of people in same-sex relationships.

In a moving speech he said changing the law was the "right thing to do", and contrary to the views of the those on the other side of the argument, would "strengthen the institution of marriage".

During the same debate Mr Oakeshott said the issue of same-sex marriage was bound to end up in the High Court regardless of the outcome of four bills before the Parliament.

Mr Oakeshott, who later voted in favour of Mr Jones's bill, said arriving at that decision had been his most challenging task during his four years in Canberra.

Meanwhile, a vote is expected in the Senate this morning on a similar bill sponsored by Labor Senators Trish Crossin, Carol Brown, Gavin Marshall and Louise Pratt.

How Labor's prominent MPs voted on the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012:

Anthony Albanese
Simon Crean
Mark Dreyfus
Peter Garrett
Jenny Macklin
Tanya Plibersek
Bill Shorten
Nicola Roxon
Mark Butler

Julia Gillard
Wayne Swan
Craig Emerson
Kevin Rudd
Chris Bowen
Tony Burke
David Bradbury

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