Despite public support, lawmakers in Australia overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage.
The Australian House of Representatives voted 98-42 against the first of four measures meant to allow gay marriage.
Both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbot voted against the bill.
Currently, Australian law defines marriage as between one man and one woman. A government study earlier this year found that most Australians favor changing that definition.
Some states do allow civil unions.
The gay marriage debate in Australia has been heated at times.
Speaking about the legislation Wednesday, opposition Sen. Cory Bernardi compared gay marriage to bestiality and polygamy.
After criticism for his comments, Bernardi resigned from his post as parliamentary secretary.