Senator John Madigan seeks referendum on marriage equality in Australia

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Saturday, December 7 marked the first of a potentially limited number of days where marriage equality is legal in Canberra, Australia.

Dozens of gay and lesbian couples from around Australia travelled to Canberra to take advantage of the Australian Capital Territory’s (ACT) legislation allowing same-sex marriage.

However, the marriages could be annulled by Thursday, December 12, depending on the High Court ruling on ACT’s law change.

This ruling comes after the federal government challenged the validity of ACT’s marriage equality law due to its supposed opposition of Australia’s federal law.

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

Now, as couples make the most of their five days of legal marriage, Senator John Madigan is also proposing a marriage equality referendum.

The Senator said, “I believe that any decision on something as vital to the structure of society as marriage should be made by the people, not the parliamentarians, and the only way to do that is by a referendum.”

He added: “It is not up to a state or territory to change the definition of marriage so fundamentally. It is also not up to a state or territory to interfere in federal legislation. Marriage has always been between a man and a woman.”

Madigan issued a reference on the proposed referendum to the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. Madigan is sending his referendum proposal to the committee in order for them to consider what form the referendum should take.

If a referendum should take place, Galaxy research public opinion polls conducted between 2009 and 2013 have suggested that over 60% of Australian citizens support marriage equality.

ABC News reported that Deputy director of Australian Marriage Equality, Ivan Hinton’s wedding to his partner Chris Teoh was “an amazing experience.”

As one of the first gay couples to exchange their vows on Saturday, Hinton said, “It’s something that means an awful amount to us…and to members of the community that we don’t even know.”

He added, “It’s important that they know that it’s OK to be gay and it’s OK to hope that one day you’re going to find the most amazing, beautiful, sensitive, complementary friend for life, and that’s what I’ve found with Chris.”

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