The ACT government has confirmed its planned civil union law would state explicitly unions were not the same as marriage, a move designed to avoid a federal government overrule.Ahead of the amended bill’s introduction into parliament today, ACT attorney-general Simon Corbell said he would also replace references to marriage in the legislation to marriage or civil union. This is similar to the Tasmanian legislation that enables same-sex couples to register their relationships.I will be moving an amendment to explicitly state that a civil union is different to a marriage but is to be treated in the same way as a marriage under territory law, Corbell said.As Sydney Star Observer reported last month, the ACT will also use its own celebrants to register civil unions. The unions would be available to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.Corbell said the amendments were a response to objections raised by commonwealth federal-attorney general Philip Ruddock after ACT chief minister Jon Stanhope first introduced the bill in March.The federal government claimed the original bill equated civil unions with marriage, vowing to override it if it was left unchanged. The federal government can overrule territory laws. While I do not necessarily accept that that the bill has the effect that Mr Ruddock claims, I am nevertheless happy to move these amendments to put these issues beyond doubt, Corbell said.The ACT law would still allow 16- and 17-year-olds to form civil unions, but this would require court approval and parental consent. In the original bill only parental approval was needed. Given these amendments there is no reason why the commonwealth should override this legislation, Corbell said.The federal government has said it will need to examine the final bill before deciding if it will oppose it.Last week the ACT’s opposition Liberal Party introduced a bill proposing a relationship registration scheme similar to Tasmania’s.

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