Here's hoping they don't make it compulsory

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A bill to legalise gay marriage will be rushed into Parliament early next year after the governing Australia Labor Party conference voted overwhelmingly yesterday to adopt marriage equality as its official policy - but granted a conscience vote to its MPs to avoid a damaging split.

Outside over 5,000 gay rights advocates called for same-sex marriage to be recognised in law.

Inside the conference a proposal give Labor members a conscience vote in the parliament was won by just 12 votes (208 to 184).

Labor powerbroker, Senator John Faulkner opposed the motion saying, "Human rights can never be at the mercy of individual opinions."

The Australian Christian Lobby today said it didn’t trust claims that churches would not eventually be forced to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.