At the last election, the number of openly gay and lesbian politicians in the federal Parliament doubled. While it was not their presence that galvanised momentum for marriage equality, their advocacy did keep up the pressure. Some, as has been well-documented, have been activists for change within their party for many years. All have put themselves on the front line for a cause they knew was worth the sacrifice.
The bill that passed the Parliament on Thursday was a collective effort - a compromise conceived by those willing to come together and across the partisan divide to deliver an outcome. In the course of debating this topic, MPs have uttered hundreds of thousands of words - these are some of the best.
Trevor Evans, Janet Rice, Tim Wilson, Dean Smith, Louise Pratt, Penny Wong and Trent Zimmerman pose for a photo ahead of the vote on the same-sex marriage bill. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
DEAN SMITH, Liberal senator for Western Australia
"Like much of what we do here, most of the real winners we will never meet. We will never truly know what it means for the young Australian boy or girl who is working out that they are gay, lesbian, intersex or transgender and who quickly realises they have nothing to fear. We will never meet the thousands of families that will bless their children at marriage ceremonies. Those parents do not think of their children as LGBTI - they think of them by their names. To their parents, they have no rainbow initial, because they see them as flesh and blood. They are kin, and that is what matters most."
PENNY WONG, Labor senator for South Australia
"It was not long ago in this country that gay and lesbian Australians were targeted by the criminal law for who they were. It wasn't that long ago that it was legal to discriminate against us simply for who we are. But equality is a remarkably persistent principle. It is a defining principle, a principle that springs from the simple and powerful precept of the inherent dignity of every individual, of every human being, and so it has been through human history. The aspiration for equality is the hallmark of our progress."
TREVOR EVANS, Liberal member for Brisbane
"This isn't about me, and it's not about any of us in this Parliament. This is about a million other people out there around Australia. For them, we have just created a national watershed moment. Every person out there who might have been questioning themselves or their value, or feeling isolated, lonely and vulnerable, knows now, without any doubt, that the majority of Australians support them and they want them to be equal."
JANET RICE, Greens senator for Victoria
"We are going to wake up the next morning and realise that things have changed, that our legislation now reflects the views of the Australian community, that we are respected, that we are equal, that there is fairness and dignity, but, above all, that we are loved and that our relationships, our loves, are considered equal and that we are loved by the Australian community as equals. And that is going to be a beautiful thing."
TRENT ZIMMERMAN, Liberal member for North Sydney
"Too many Australians have lived a life of denial and too many of us have experienced that great debilitating shadow that comes from the fear of discovery or rejection. Many still do today, but Australians, through their vote, have helped bring about change. They have said every Australian should be able to be simply who they are. For that, I thank them."
LOUISE PRATT, Labor senator for Western Australia
"My beloved partner Bek and I also want to marry. And I know we share the feelings of other same-sex couples who look forward to the focus turning from a massive public debate about our lives and our identities and turning towards each other, for the love we share for each other and for our children. We look forward to celebrating our love and having it recognised in front of our family, our friends and our community."
TIM WILSON, Liberal member for Goldstein
"Like so many others at 18, I confronted the choice before me about whether I should live my life honestly or not at all. I still remember my thoughts at that crucial moment: if you give in, they win. If I could go back and tell that scared 18-year-old kid he'd be speaking here - surrounded by Trevor Evans and Trent Zimmerman, and also representing the party of his values with his partner, Ryan, in the gallery - he wouldn't have believed me."
* Labor MP Julian Hill, who represents the Melbourne seat of Bruce and is also gay, was attending another commitment when this photograph was taken on Thursday.