The High Court of Australia will hear a challenge against the Australian Capital Territory’s (ACT) law allowing same-sex marriage before same-sex couples will be able to marry there in a potential blow for efforts to allow same-sex marriage in Australia.
The High Court will hear the challenge from 3 to 4 December, while same-sex couples will not be able to marry before 8 December.
A mass of couples will likely marry in the ACT before the court rules on the legality of their marriages but they may be struck down just weeks later.
The news comes as the campaign for marriage equality in Australia reveals that dozens of Australian same-sex couples have traveled to neighboring New Zealand to marry even though their marriages will not be married at home.
Statistics NZ released figures today showing that 117 same-sex couples married between 19 August and 30 September, including 40 overseas couples – the bulk of whom are likely to have been Australian.
‘Given the large number of Australian couples who have told us they intend to marry in New Zealand I can only assume most of the overseas partners who married there in August and September were from Australia,’ Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome, said.
‘If this is the case, it means about a third of the overall number of same-sex marriages in New Zealand were between Australians. This high proportion is a reminder of how strongly many Australian same-sex couples desire to marry and how Australian law is driving them overseas, away from family, friends and loved ones, to do it."
‘It is also a reminder that when they return home their solemn legal vows of lifelong commitment count for nothing under Australian law.’
Croome said even more Australians would have likely married in New Zealand since it became possible were it not for the time needed to organize friends and family.
‘It takes time to organize a wedding overseas and some couples will be waiting to see if they can marry in the ACT,’ Croome said.