Australia's parliament voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to reject gay marriage after days of heated debate, with the bill defeated 98 to 42.
Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition conservative leader Tony Abbott were among those voting in the House of Representatives against legalising marriage between same sex couples.
Gillard had allowed Labor MPs a conscience vote on the issue - meaning they were free to vote how they wanted rather than along party lines - while the opposition had opposed it.
Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese, who voted for the reform, said despite the bill's failure the figures were encouraging.
"Just a few years ago there wouldn't have been the support of anything like 42 votes on the floor of the national parliament for a marriage equality bill," he told reporters.
"All the figures show that there is majority community support on this issue... and I think at some future time, parliament will catch up with the community opinion."
Advocates of marriage equality say gay marriage has broad support in Australia, where same-sex unions are recognised in five states.
However, because marriage is covered by federal legislation that defines it as only between a man and a woman, couples joined in civil unions are not seen by the national government as "married".