The Australian Capital Territory today passed a bill allowing same-sex couples to legally recognise their civil union with a ceremony.
The Greens-led bill was passed after an amendment by the Labor Party which supported change to the ACT’s Civil Partnership Act for same-sex couples only.
The Labor amendment stemmed from legal advice last year from the now Commonwealth Solicitor-General, Stephen Gageler SC, suggesting legislation relating to same-sex civil ceremonies in isolation should not be inconsistent with the Federal Marriage Act which deals with marriage between a man and a woman only.
The ACT’s two previous attempts to introduce legal ceremonies for same-sex couples entering civil unions were quashed by the Federal Government arguing the move “mimics” marriage.
ACT Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury hailed the new bill as another step towards full equality for same-sex couples.
Equal Love Canberra spokesman John Kloprogge welcomed the move, however, he said Labor’s amendments were “unnecessary and exclusionary”.
“We believe official ceremonies are all about how we recognise and respect loving relationships, and we have every right to that recognition,” he said.
Kloprogge said there was concern the amendments limiting ceremonies to same-sex couples only would unfairly exclude heterosexual and some transgender couples.
“Civil partnership laws were originally intended to be broader and more inclusive than the amended bill provides for,” Kloprogge said.
The Greens and gay activists say the change will put the heat on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on the issue of same-sex marriage if the Federal Government rules to overturn it.

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