Wedding bells finally ring for Australia's gay couples

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Same-sex weddings took place across Australia on Tuesday, as Australia celebrated its first official day of marriage equality.

Rebecca Hickson, 32, and Sarah Turnbull, 34, Wednesday at 8am Tuesday, three years after their original commitment celebrations.

The happy couples were free to marry after Australia's Parliament voted to legalise same-sex marriage in December after a long campaign involving a public postal vote and hundreds of hours of parliamentary debate.

AUSTRALIA'S same-sex couples have begun to get married today after a compulsory 30-day waiting period expired, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

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Wasting no time to tie the knot were two athletes.

Among the first to Wednesday were Commonwealth Games sprinter Craig Burns and his partner of three years, fellow athlete Luke Sullivan.

"For me Deanne's always been my wife, always been the love of my life and today's not going to change that, it's just about equality really, and being able to finally be legal in Australia", she said.

Ron van Houwelingen and Antony McManus were another couple who Wednesday on Tuesday following 30 years together and 16 unofficial wedding ceremonies.

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Due to special circumstances, a small number of couples were given permission to Wednesday before January 9, the date that the first gay marriages could take place after a mandatory one-month waiting period.

"We've already had our big hoo-ha ceremony three years ago, but now we get to declare our love for each other again and have it recognised as a real union", Ms Hickson said.

"Most of the others have been more of protests - we've renewed our vows at rallies, married on TV and on radio".

Australia held a postal ballot late a year ago to measure public opinion on marriage equality; a majority in every state supported it, according to results announced on November 15, with 62% of respondents voting in favor overall.

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