The bill, sponsored by the Greens, was defeated 45 votes to 28, with Senator Boyce crossing the floor in support, reports The Age.

Senator Boyce had told Fairfax Media before the debate and vote that she was prepared to back two bills – the international marriage bill and another that bans discrimination against gay and transgender residents of Commonwealth-funded aged care homes.

”It’s an important step towards marriage equality,” Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who put forward the bill said. ”We have thousands of couples now living in Australia who’ve gone overseas and gotten married . . . and they arrive back home at Sydney International Airport and all of a sudden they have to check their marriage at the customs gate.”

The Marriage Act that states that ”certain unions are not marriages”. and that foreign weddings between ”a man and another man” and ”a woman and another woman . . . must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia”.

During the debate, Labor Senator Louise Pratt told the Senate the current law imposed ”unnecessary hurt and hardship on couples” by rejecting their marriages when they arrived home after marrying overseas.”As an LGBTI Australian myself and as a member of this place I am not going to stop fighting until our equal rights are achieved,” Senator Pratt said.

Senator Hanson-Young said: ”I urge all members today, regardless of what your leaders have told you, to think with your hearts, open your minds and vote the way you know is right. Do not let anyone say you do not have the right to speak up for what your constituents want, for what you know in your heart is the right thing to do just because your leader has told you to stay put.”

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