Marriage equality advocates are calling for same-sex couples living in the ACT to marry as soon as possible in response to the federal government’s confirmation they will challenge the legislation in the High Court if it passes.
The bill is expected to pass in the ACT Legislative Assembly later this month, with the first same-sex marriages in the territory possible as soon as February.
NSW independent MP and LGBTI rights advocate Alex Greenwich told AAP he would encourage same-sex couples in the ACT to marry as soon as the law comes into effect.
“The more people we have expressing their love and commitment will make it harder for any laws to be overturned,” Greenwich said.
“I would encourage as many same-sex couples to get married in the ACT as possible.”
Despite announcing yesterday the government would challenge the law in the High Court, Attorney-General George Brandis expressed some concern for same-sex couples living in the ACT.
Brandis said the ACT government should wait for the High Court’s decision before implementing the law to avoid causing distress to couples whose marriages may have to be invalidated.
“It would be better for all concerned if the ACT government waited for a short time until the validity of the proposed law was determined by the High Court,” Brandis said.
The ACT Government has reiterated its belief in the bill’s constitutional validity, with the territory’s Attorney-General Simon Corbell accusing Brandis and the federal government of hypocrisy.
“We are disappointed that the Commonwealth professes concern for same-sex couples entering into marriage in case the law is struck down when it is they themselves who are seeking to have it struck down,” Corbell told AAP.
“There are many same-sex couples both in the ACT and in other parts of the country who support the law and who want…to have the opportunity to be married, even though they understand that the Commonwealth has announced that it will challenge the law.”
The ACT Government’s assertion the bill is valid echoes a report released yesterday by the Tasmania Law Reform Institute finding no absolute impediment to state-based marriage equality legislation.
The report identified a number of unanswered questions around such law, saying it could not predict how the High Court might decide in the event of a legal challenge.
“Some aspects of this debate raise relatively new issues which have not previously been considered. Consequently, it is difficult to even predict how the High Court might approach these issues,” the report states.