SAME-sex couples getting married in the ACT on Saturday will enjoy at least five days of being legally recognised after the High Court decided to hold its deliberations for the Federal Government’s challenge to the territory’s same-sex marriage laws.
This afternoon the court reserved its judgment until Thursday, December 12, effectively allowing same-sex marriages to legally take place in the territory from Saturday – a first for Australia.
The Commonwealth is challenging the validity of ACT’s same-sex marriage laws, which were passed in late October by the its Legislative Assembly.
Saturday, December 7 is the earliest date under the legislation in which couples are able to get married in the territory.
ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell said because the Federal Government did not seek an injuction, same-sex marriages could take place this weekend to couples who have been given their notice.
However, he highlighted the uncertainty surrounding those marriages, because they could be invalid should the ACT legislation be declared unconstitutional by the High Court next Thursday.
The ACT Government has stated that 47 couples have lodged papers to get married, among them being Australian Marriage Equality deputy national director Ivan Hinton and his partner Chris Teoh.
The principal question in the High Court case has been whether the ACT same-sex marriage legislation is inconsistent with the Federal Marriage Act.
The Commonwealth Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson told the High Court that federal marriage laws defined it as the union between a man and a woman.
However, the ACT claimed it had authority over same-sex marriages, and that they could coexist alongside the traditional form of marriage.
Australian Marriage Equality’s lawyer Anna Brown said the ACT Government – as well as other state governments – should have constitutional power to legislate for same-sex marriages.
Recently, a similar bill in Tasmania was defeated and a bid by the NSW Upper House to legalise same-sex marriage was lost by a single vote.