LGBT Australians may have only a five-day wedding window

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In October 2013, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government, which governs Canberra, passed a same-sex marriage bill allowing gay couples to wed.

On December 7, the law will come into effect, allowing gay couples to marry in the region.

However, this privilege could potentially last only five days and even then might be declared illegal, an issue the High Court intends to rule on after the federal government attempted to remove the law.

Federal government lawyer Justin Gleeson argued to the court that differing marriage laws between Australian states would only create confusion; therefore the ACT should not be permitted to pass their law.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott also actively opposes marriage equality, and has previously removed attempts to give same-sex couples legal recognition. Abbott’s government was equally as swift to challenge the ACT law immediately after the Legislative Assembly passed the bill in October.

The federal government amended the marriage law in 2004 to state that marriage was a union between a man and woman. 

However, this amendment could end up being the argument the ACT needs to maintain their new same-sex marriage law. They can argue that the federal law only deals with heterosexual marriage, without mention of same-sex couples, which allows a state to pass a law on different terms of marriage outside of that one specific definition.

Apprehension runs high on both sides as they await the Court ruling, but both seem confident that they have strong arguments to present to the court. The court will make its official ruling on December 12.

429Magazine

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