LGBT couples hope Taiwan will be the first place in Asia to recognize same-sex marriage, letting them share child custody and insurance benefits.
"The legislature has lots of choices on how to make this court order take effect", said referendum proponent Chen Ke, a Catholic pastor in Taiwan and an opponent of same-sex marriage.
In May 2017, the Council of Grand Justices in Taipei ordered that legislation be adopted within the next two years to enshrine marriage equality into law.
The ruling party DPP lost so badly on Saturday because it framed the vote as one between freedom or a Chinese takeover.
In this November 24, 2018, photo, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen arrives for a press conference, after local elections at the headquarters of Democratic Progressive Party, in Taipei.
The ruling party of Taiwan suffered a major defeat in local elections on Saturday. seen as a referendum on independence for the island amid growing pressure from mainland China.
Another factor cited was the Nationalists' Han Kuo-yu, who ended 20 years of DPP rule in Kaohsiung by soundly defeating his DPP rival, and seemed to galvanize opposition to the status quo under Tsai.
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Of the five referendums on Saturday that touched on gay issues, three reached the required threshold of more than 4.94 million "yes" votes, a quarter of eligible voters, needed to pass.
The conservative group also beat gay rights activists on competing referendums about whether LGBT issues should be compulsory on the school curriculum.
Ahead of the vote, Tsai and DPP officials repeatedly said they believed China has meddled in the lead-up to the elections through a "fake news" campaign, which Beijing has denied.
Christian groups and advocates of the traditional Chinese family structure stumped for Saturday's referendum along with a separate ballot measure that suggests using a "different process" to protect same-sex unions, a likely reference to keeping the civil code's marriage wording as is.Both measures passed.
Campaigners fear the eventual legislation would be weaker, the BBC reported.
One possible outcome could be that gay couples are given legal protection - but not allowed to get married, according to the BBC report.
"Our efforts weren't enough and we let down all our supporters", the president said.
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The Beijing-friendly main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) made gains in the face of China's increasing pressure on the island.
Almost 21,000 candidates were vying for 11,000 elected positions, from mayors to city councillors and township chiefs.
Taiwan's Investigation Bureau is probing Chinese influence on the elections through campaign funding of candidates.
A mother of two young boys told me outside a polling station that she supports neither independence nor unification, and she doesn't want war between the two sides; she just want more opportunities for Taiwanese people's lives to improve.
Analysts said the USA would not be anxious about the outcome of the elections, as issues of reunification or independence had not played a major role.
The KMT's strong showing was not necessarily a backlash against Tsai's policy towards mainland China, and may reflect concerns about Taiwan's economic performance and jobs, analysts said. If President Tsai and her party refuse to change course on China, they risk losing the Presidency and their majority rule in parliament in the 2020 election.
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