Questions around the legality of state and territory-based marriage equality could be answered as soon as the end of this week, as both the ACT and Tasmania consider the compatibility of proposed legislation with position of the Federal Government.
ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell will speak about the territory’s proposed marriage bill at a two-day meeting of federal, state and territory Attorneys-General.
Corbell will argue the ACT’s bill does not conflict with Commonwealth law because it only applies to same-sex couples—specifically, couples who are excluded under the federal Marriage Act.
Federal Attorney-General George Brandis (pictured) will chair the two-day meeting, and has reportedly received legal advice indicating a bill like the ACT’s proposed same-sex marriage legislation would be unconstitutional.
The ACT legislation is expected to pass later this month, but it is unclear whether it will be challenged by the Abbott Government, either in the High Court or through federal parliament, which can overturn territory legislation with a majority in both houses.
The Australian Greens have already called on federal Labor members to prevent such an attempt by voting en bloc to support the ACT bill.
Meanwhile, a report into the implications and legal issues surrounding state-based marriage equality legislation will be released tomorrow in Tasmania, with advocates hopeful it could pave the way for successful state-based marriage law reform.
The report comes from the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute (TLRI) as a response to the defeat of Tasmania’s Same Sex Marriage Bill 2012 last year in the state’s Legislative Council. At the time, some MLCs raised concerns about the constitutionality of such a law and the potential cost to Tasmania associated with defending a High Court challenge.
“If this independent and expert legal advice gives room for Tasmania to legislate for same-sex marriage we hope all MLCs will support Ruth Forrest’s motion to allow debate on a reform that has excited the aspirations of our state, and consider the advice when deciding on the issue,” said Tasmanians United for Marriage Equality Convener Andrew Badcock.
NSW independent MP and LGBTI advocate Alex Greenwich will be in Hobart for the report’s release, and to discuss proposed legislation with members of the Tasmanian parliament.
“If constitutional and high courts concerns prevented MLCs from voting in favour last time, hopefully the Tasmania Law Reform Institute will alleviate these concerns and allow the MLCs the opportunity to legislate for this historic reform,” Greenwich said.