The Wall Street Journal: Australia voters approve same-sex marriage, opening door to legalization

CANBERRA, Australia — Australians have endorsed same-sex marriage in a nonbinding national vote, delivering a win for the country’s conservative leader that may yet come at the cost of a rebellion by right-wing lawmakers in his coalition.

After a divisive two-month campaign that included a court challenge meant to prevent the ballot, billed as a survey of national opinion, officials on Wednesday announced a 62% to 38% result in favor of such unions. Conducted by mail, it drew a response rate of nearly 80%.

“Millions of Australians responded to this voluntary survey. It shows how important this issue was to many Australians,” said David Kalisch, head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, announcing an outcome anticipated by thousands of people who gathered in parks around the country to watch the result broadcast on large screens, many waving rainbow-colored flags.

For Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who called for the vote to test public opinion ahead of a parliamentary measure on same-sex marriage he has promised this year, the outcome will provide short-term relief from a series of political challenges. He supports changing the marriage laws despite divisions in his government, and conservative rebels promised to try to amend or block a bill in Parliament, which twice rejected proposals to hold a binding referendum on the issue.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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