Another Australian jurisdiction has announced it will legalize same-sex marriage, while at a federal level, Australian Government senators have introduced their own private members bill to legalize same sex marriage.
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which houses the Australian capital of Canberra, today announced it would legalize same-sex marriage at a territory level, joining the states of South Australia and Tasmania who have also pledged to do so.
ACT Attorney General Simon Corbell told ABC TV that it was working with the Tasmanian Government to develop similar legislation as had already been proposed in Tasmania.
Same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil partnerships in the ACT since 2008, but Australian Governments have repeatedly intervened to veto official ceremonies for civil unions for the reason that having a ceremony made them too much like marriages.
However a Greens party bill was passed in the Australian Parliament last year which removed the federal veto of Australian territory laws – meaning the ACT can now do as it likes without fear of federal intervention.
‘Marriage equality is an issue that deserves a collaborative approach,’ Corbell told the ABC.
‘I am pleased that my Tasmanian counter-part, Attorney-General Brian Wightman, has agreed to proceed with discussions that would see our two progressive governments work together to further state and territory-based legislation to promote same-sex marriage.’
The news comes on the back of the ACT government restoring official ceremonies for civil unions.
Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Alex Greenwich welcomed the news.
‘Mr Corbell’s announcement makes it clear that marriage equality will be achieved in Australia, state by state and territory by territory if that’s what it takes,’ Greenwich said.
‘We applaud the ACT Government’s commitment to equality and the co-operative approach it is taking to the issue.’
The news comes as the Australian Senate prepares to debate a Greens bill to legalize same-sex marriage and as four government Senators introduce their own bill on the issue – suggesting the ruling Australian Labor Party may be seeking to take ownership of the issue if a vote is successful in the parliament.
Labor Senators Louise Pratt, Gavin Marshall, Carol Brown and Trish Crossin introduced the private members bill this morning ahead of the debate on the issue.
Greenwich welcomed the debate.
‘The Senate will now begin the conversation about marriage that so many Australians have already had, and it is one about family, equality, and fairness,’ Greenwich said.
‘We believe the Senate is the right place for the marriage equality debate to advance because it has some of the parliament's strongest advocates and has conducted the most comprehensive and supportive inquiries.’
‘However, we are concerned that there are now two competing marriage equality bills before the Senate, because the overseas experience shows when marriage equality supporters don't cooperate the reform is much harder to achieve.’
‘We call on those Senators who support equality to work together to achieve a reform that is passionately supported by a clear majority of Australians.’