The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) will begin marrying same-sex couples before year’s end following a vote in the ACT Legislative Assembly.
The Australian Government has vowed to challenge the ACT law in the High Court but the ACT Government moved 25 amendments to the bill on the advice of constitutional experts to shore it up against any court challenge.
The ACT Liberal Opposition voted against the bill and amendments as a block.
A court challenge to the law will take time to organize and hundreds of Australian same-sex couples are likely to marry in the meantime.
ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher called the introduction of the bill ‘an important day in the history of the Assembly and the history of the ACT.’
‘For the first time in Australia same-sex couples will have the opportunity to have their relationships recognized and celebrated as a marriage.
‘There is no longer any excuse, if there ever was, to discriminate against same-sex people in our community. They are our brothers, our sisters, our co-workers, our mentors, but most importantly they are our equals.’
Gallagher said the Australian people were already far advanced on the issue compared to most of their lawmakers.
The passing of the bill was applauded by the Australian campaign for same-sex marriage who hope to see similar bills passed by the Tasmanian and New South Wales (NSW) state parliaments in the near future.
‘Today’s vote in the ACT is a day many Australians have waited for. Historically, the ACT has said loving and committed same-sex couples deserve and will now have the right to get married,’ Australian Marriage Equality deputy director Ivan Hinton said.
This law with strengthen same-sex couples and their families, and will be welcomed by all Australians who support fairness and family.
‘We understand the ACT government will continue to take action to strengthen the legislation, which will be welcomed by the many couples across the ACT and Australia who will soon get married in under the territory law.
‘Today’s vote sends a strong message to the federal government and state governments that loving and committed same-sex couples want to get married and want to uphold it’s values and responsibilities. We congratulate the ACT government on their leadership and for standing up for the love and commitment of same-sex couples.’
Legislation is expected to be re-visited in the Tasmanian Upper House shortly, and to be introduced soon in the NSW Upper House.