Australian campaigners for marriage equality have asked Prime Minister Tony Abbott to respect the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government’s mandate to legislate for same-sex marriage if they want people to respect his mandate to govern.
Over the weekend the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) called on Abbott to block moves by the ACT Government to pass a bill allowing same-sex couples to marry within its borders, saying having same-sex couples marry at a state and territory level and opposite sex couples marry under federal law would be ‘nonsense.’
‘It's in the Parliament's interest to protect the constitution, the constitutional power for marriage,’ ACL managing director Lyle Shelton told The Australian newspaper.
‘It is a constitutional nonsense for a territory to be seeking to legislate in this area. So I think the parliament would have to take action on this.’
However Australian Marriage Equality deputy national director Ivan Hinton told GSN that Abbott would be in a difficult position to challenge the ACT Government’s mandate to pass its legislation and expect people to respect his mandate to govern on the issues he campaigned on.
‘The ACT Government was recently elected and did so on a platform of addressing marriage equality. As a result of this mandate they are pursuing this bill to advance the equality and dignity of it's citizens,’ Hinton told GSN.
‘We call on the Federal government to recognize the strong community support there is for marriage equality within the ACT and the Assembly's right to enact laws without unnecessary intervention.
‘The ACT Government has indicated willingness to address any constitutional questions that may exist. Those questions can and should be dealt with by the High Court, not pre-empted by the Federal Government.’
When the legislation passes the ACT Assembly it will become the first jurisdiction to legally wed same-sex couples and couples from across Australia are expected to flock to the ACT to marry there after it passes.
Currently same-sex couples can only enter into civil unions in the ACT and even these were vetoed three times by successive Australian Governments.