SSM Votes are a Clear YES... so what now?

The ayes have it.

After months of respectful debate about the rights of a segment of our society, we've finally got the results - 61.6% of Australians voted yes - we should allow same sex couples to marry.

Every state and territory had a majority yes vote and 133 of 150 electorates in the country had a yes majority (though not my own electorate, Calwell, unfortunately).

If this were a referendum, it would be one of the clearest majorities we have ever seen - only six other referendums in our history have had a higher yes vote.

But this was not a referendum, it was a voluntary postal survey that's non-binding. So what does this mean now that it's all over?

Well, the results can be treated the same as any opinion poll. The progress on marriage legislation through Parliament is at the same point it was before we had the survey, only now we have another opinion poll stating the obvious:

Same Sex Marriage has had majority of support for more than a decade.

In a press conference after the results, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he wants to get the law changed by Christmas and will allow a conscience vote on the bill.

There's just two more sitting weeks of Parliament left in the year - November 27 to December 7 - so it will be a tight window.

Fundamentally, the change is a simple one - remove a clause in the Marriage Act stating that marriage is only "between a man and a woman," which was put there by John Howard in 2004, but that change is only the tip of the iceberg.

The real debate will be around the religious exemptions. Religious and conservative groups will argue for protections under the law to ensure their beliefs aren't infringed upon by other peoples' marriages.

We've already seen the dangerous side of this earlier in the week, with Victorian Liberal Senator James Paterson introducing legislation which would provide wide ranging exemptions, which are arguably discriminatory. 

But for today, it's a great victory for civil rights in Australia. With a 79.5% turnout it's one of the highest in the world for a voluntary vote on same sex marriage. It's come back with a resounding yes, and the people are rejoicing.