Australia's parliament has approved a same-sex marriage bill, making Australia the 25th nation to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.

According to, the legislation cleared the House of Representatives on Thursday with all but four “yes” votes. As many as 12 MPs abstained from voting.

The bill cleared the Senate last week.

Passage comes about three weeks after the government announced results of a postal vote on whether it should extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples. An overwhelming majority (61.6%) of Australians who participated voted “yes.”

Supporters of the legislation defeated attempts to attach amendments to the bill aimed at undermining the rights of married gay couples. Adding amendments to the bill would have triggered a new round of voting.

“Australia has done it,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the House. “Every Australian had their say, and they said, 'It's fair. Get on with it.'”

“We've voted today for equality, for love, it's time for more marriages, more commitment, more love, more respect. This is Australia: fair, diverse, loving and filled with respect,” he added.

The first weddings are expected to take place as early as January 6, 2018.

Authored by out Liberal Senator Dean Smith, the bill was introduced the day after results of the postal vote were announced.

Smith told ABC News (Australia) that the historic change was “owned by everyone, it is owned by the Australian people.”

(Related: Australian lawmaker Tim Wilson proposes marriage to boyfriend during gay marriage debate.)