Iconic picture captures reaction to same-sex marriage decision

Exuberant: Liberal MP Warren Entsch lifts up Member for Barton Linda Burney as they celebrate the passing of the Marriage Amendment Bill. Picture: AAP/Lukas Coch
Exuberant: Liberal MP Warren Entsch lifts up Member for Barton Linda Burney as they celebrate the passing of the Marriage Amendment Bill. Picture: AAP/Lukas Coch

It was the image that captured the moment the House of Representatives voted to change the marriage act.

Member for Barton Linda Burney jumps into the arms of Liberal MP Warren Entsch - a smile on her face as he lifts her up.

Around them other members of parliament smile and hug with some draped in the rainbow flag.

It was a extra special moment for Ms Burney who had spoken about her support for same-sex marriage on Tuesday.

"I have never had a second thought," she said.

"It seemed to be so obvious."

"I support  marriage equality as someone who has and has had loved ones who identify as LGBTI". 

"To them," she said, "Marriage equality would mean so much."

Ms Burney looked up from the dispatch box, her eyes seeking the camera that was broadcasting her speech beyond Parliament, making sure no one missed her purpose.

"I honour these people," she said.

"In particular my late son, Binni." 

Those powerful words spoke volumes and came just days before the final vote.

Member for Barton Linda Burney tears up as she speaks on the Marriage Amendment Bill. Picture: Dominic Lorrimer

Member for Barton Linda Burney tears up as she speaks on the Marriage Amendment Bill. Picture: Dominic Lorrimer

At precisely 5:58pm on Thursday, the whole place felt and sounded as if it had exploded.

Bodies rose from the seats, those on the floor of the House and those up there in the pews, as if gravity no longer had meaning.

Arms flew around shoulders, hands fluttered to mouths and brushed at tears, and everyone, politicians below and those above for whom this day was suddenly so perfect seemed to be hugging. A rainbow flag popped open as if from the air itself and suddenly, up there in the public gallery, voices were raised in song.

"We share a dream/And sing with one voice/I am, you are/We are Australian", the voices floated through all the applause.

It was done. Almost every member of the House of Representatives had voted 'Yes' to changing the Marriage Act.

From that moment forth, the nation's laws would no longer restrict marriage to that between a man and a woman. It would, simply, be for two people.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in his excitement to hail the end of this days' rivers of words, cried "What a day, what a day for love, for equality, for respect. It is a time for more marriages, more equality, more love!"

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten wanted the world to know that "we are no longer a nation who voted yes or no; we are Australians."

As the applause finally died away - it took four-and-a-half minutes - the pews emptied and in the Parliament's vast mural hall next door, the corks of champagne bottles were flying.