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ACT government to offer free marriage certificates for same-sex couples who wed when briefly legal in Canberra

Katie Burgess

Published: December 8 2017 - 9:19AM

Same-sex couples who wed while gay marriage was briefly legal in the ACT will be able to get a free marriage certificate if they marry again, in celebration of the passage of the marriage equality bill.

Regulatory services minister Gordon Ramsay will announce on Friday the ACT government will waive $55 certificate fee for couples married previously under the ACT's Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013.

Couples who previously registered a civil union under the Civil Union Act 2012 can also have their fee waived.

There are about 80 couples eligible in a move that is expected to cost the ACT government about $4400.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr told ABC Radio on Friday morning said the waiver was the "least" the government could do. 

"There's been a long history of civil unions slash civil partnership legislation in the ACT going back over a decade," Mr Barr said.

"Yesterday it was funny to reflect upon just how far this debate has progressed given there was a time, I think 11 years ago, when even a civil union in the ACT was vetoed by the then federal government so to see that vote yesterday was a very significant change in public opinion in Australia.

"We feel it's an entirely appropriate thing to acknowledge these couples who took the very significant step of getting married in the ACT in 2013, that is the least we could do to both say thank you to those couples and to recognise their enduring commitment to each other."

By a happy coincidence, the bill's passage came four years after the first same-sex weddings in Australia took place because of its brief legalisation in the ACT. 

Two couples wed minutes after midnight on December 7, 2013, although the High Court struck out the ACT's same-sex marriage laws only days later.

Three-in-four Canberrans voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage in the November 14 postal survey.

The ACT government was vocal in supporting the 'yes' vote.

Rainbow buses have been driving around Canberra since August and rainbow flags flew proudly during the survey period. 

The government commissioned a mural celebrating the vote in Garema Place, which an artist started painted minutes after the 'yes' vote prevailed, and volunteers also painted a roundabout in rainbow colours in Braddon. 

Couples wanting to find out if they are eligible to have their marriage certificate fee waived can contact 13 22 81 or visit

Clarification: An earlier version of this story said couples could upgrade their certificates for free. 

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