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Tasmania upper house rejects same-sex marriage

HOBART, Tasmania, Australia -- The hearts and dreams of gay and lesbian couples in the Australian state of Tasmania have been broken, after the state government's upper house narrowly voted Thursday to reject marriage equality.

The lower house had approved the marriage-equality bill, 13-11, during a dramatic vote last month.

But after a debate that lasted more than 10 hours, the upper chamber voted 8-6 to reject the bill.

Tasmania Premier Lara Giddings expressed her disappointment with the vote, and had hoped that her state would become the first in Australia to allow same-sex weddings.

On the national level, the Australian federal government has rejected a marriage-equality bill.

Though clearly disappointed by the vote, Tasmania resident Rodney Croome, of Australian Marriage Equality, said he saw a silver lining in the close vote and on the constitutional issues raised by those who voted against the bill.

"Today in Tasmania we came closer to allowing same-sex couples to marry than ever before in Australia," Croome said. "The fact that most upper house members who voted against of this bill cited constitutional issues as the problem shows we have won the marriage equality debate even though the bill was lost.

"We will never rest until same-sex couples can marry."