Two blows have been dealt to state marriage bids with the announcement of the date for the federal government’s High Court challenge to the ACT’s Marriage Equality Act and Tasmania’s upper house voting down the state’s Same-Sex Marriage Bill.

High Court Chief Justice Robert French told a directions hearing that the case against the ACT legislation will be heard by the court over two days on 3–4 December.

marriageAlthough the Act comes into effect on Thursday 7 November couples must register their intention to wed a month in advance, making 8 December the earliest date any marriages could take place.

The High Court will likely still be considering the federal government challenge on this date, casting doubt on whether couples will be able to marry under the Act.

The announcement comes after more bad news from Tasmania, where the Same-Sex Marriage Bill was defeated in the upper house by the same slim margin as last year’s vote.

Despite recent advice from Australia’s leading constitutional legal expert deeming the bill constitutionally valid, some Tasmanian MLCs cited the possibility of a successful federal legal challenge as a reason for voting against the bill.

Marriage equality advocates have slammed the justifications as “patronising”.

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