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Australian same-sex couples will marry before High Court challenge

Australian same-sex couples will marry before High Court challenge

Same-sex couples will have a brief window of opportunity to begin marrying in Australia despite the Australian Government’s challenge in the High Court.

The Australian Government had sought to expedite its challenge to the Australian Capital Territory’s (ACT) law allowing same-sex couples to marry under territory law and the court held a directions hearing today at 2.15pm.

However the case will not get a full hearing until mid-December and the ACT law comes into effect in early December – leaving a window in which same-sex couples will be able to marry before the court decides their constitutionality.

By December it is possible that same-sex marriage will have been legalized in the Australian states of Tasmania and New South Wales – with New South Wales to debate a bill on the issue next Thursday – something that may also weigh on the judges’ decision.

Campaigners for same-sex marriage in Australia say couples are already planning to travel to the ACT to marry in December from all over Australia.

‘The High Court decision to hear the case in December gives Australian same-sex couples the chance to finally marry in Australia for the very first time,’ Australian Marriage Equality deputy director Ivan Hinton said.

‘The window of opportunity may be small but I know of many Australian same-sex couples who will want to be amongst the first to be wed on Australian soil. People are excited. Families are already planning their trip to Canberra.

‘We continue to work actively with the ACT Government to ensure that we have the best chance of this law surviving the High Court challenge.’

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has sought to discourage same-sex couples from marrying in the ACT but Hinton said couples should not be discouraged from marrying by the High Court challenge.

‘Making solemn, legally-binding vows of lifelong commitment will be an important moment for same-sex couples who marry in the ACT, regardless of the outcome of the High Court case.’

Abbott has said he would attend his sister’s same-sex wedding but also says he will never approve of same-sex marriage.