Australia ’s first gay weddings took place Saturday , ushering in a new era after the country ’ s marriage equality law came into effect this month.
The historic reforms were given royal assent on December 8, the final step in a process that began with a national postal vote in September .
There was supposed to be a 30 -day waiting period after couples registered to marry , with the first weddings expected on January 9 .
But some sought an exemption due to their circumstances, and the first ceremonies went ahead on Saturday, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne.
“Australia ’s first legal same -sex marriage has just taken place .
Congratulations Amy and Lauren ,” Equal Marriage Rights Australia announced on its Facebook page .
Fairfax Media said Lauren Price , 31 , and Amy Laker , 29 , solemnised their vows in Sydney , while Melbourne couple Amy and Elise McDonald — who coincidentally have the same surname — tied the knot two hours later.
A photo showed Price and Laker dressed in traditional white gowns and holding hands as they said “I do ” on a glorious Sydney day .
Among hundreds of comments on the Facebook page , Paul Antoine said : “Now … has the country collapsed ? NOOO !! Two women have just shown their love . Pretty simple , but nonetheless special in my view!”
Jason Chapman added : “Relentless dedication from so many over the last fifty years have led us to enjoy this beautiful moment of equality . Congratulations ladies .”
All but four members of Australia ’s 150 – seat lower House of Representatives voted in support of marriage equality , with the legislation passing without any religious freedom amendments that some were pushing for .
The bill was introduced in parliament by the conservative government after Australians in November endorsed the reforms in a contentious voluntary postal vote .
Nearly 80 percent of eligible voters took part in the poll , and almost 62 percent of those who voted chose “yes” on their ballots .
Fairfax said Price and Laker had originally intended to hold a commitment ceremony at the British consulate because Price was from Wales .
But when the new law was passed , they sought an exemption from the normal waiting period because Price ’s family had already travelled to Sydney for the celebrations .
Melbourne’s Amy and Elise McDonald, aged 36 and 28 , reportedly only got permission to marry on Saturday morning , gaining an exemption for similar reasons , according to the Herald Sun newspaper .
They were allowed to have a legal marriage on financial grounds and because their families had travelled from overseas .
Same – sex marriage is now recognised in more than 20 countries, of which 16 are in Europe .