Liberal Senator Sue Boyce defied her party's line on same-sex marriage and crossed the floor of the Australian parliament's upper house to vote for a bill giving legal recognition to same-sex marriages performed overseas.
The Bill, sponsored by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, was defeated earlier today by 45 votes against to 28 votes for.
'It's an important step towards marriage equality,' Hanson-Young said to Fairfax Media before the vote.
'We have thousands of couples now living in Australia who've gone overseas and gotten married... and they arrive back home at Sydney International Airport and all of a sudden they have to check their marriage at the customs gate.'
Boyce said in an interview with Fairfax Media this morning before the debate that crossing the floor is 'an awful feeling but I just think it's important enough that we get this piece of legislation through'.
The retiring Queensland senator said she has spoken to opposition leader Tony Abbott about allowing a conscience vote on same-sex marriage and he said that the Liberal party allows anyone to vote freely on any issue.
'A conscience vote means people can move around freely as they like but none of us have signed a piece of paper like Labor and the Greens have saying "we will always do what the party tells us",' said Boyce.
Australian Marriage Equality deputy director Ivan Hinton said same-sex marriage is threatening the unity of the Liberal party. 'Tony Abbott's only choice if he is to avoid the perception of party disunity over this issue is to allow a conscience vote,' he said.
Boyce also said she would cross the floor to vote for a bill that would remove religious organization's exemption from discrimination law when providing aged care services.
'I do not think that the religious organizations can have it both ways,' said Boyce, Sydney Morning Herald reports. 'They cannot say, "we don't discriminate" or "we respect the individual" and at the same time say, "but we don't want any legislation that affects the way we treat people".'