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ACT same-sex marriages might be annulled: Libs

Liberal leader Jeremy Hanson says it is inappropriate for the Assembly to debate marriage equality legislation.

Liberal leader Jeremy Hanson says it is inappropriate for the Assembly to debate marriage equality legislation. Photo: Jay Cronan

Same-sex couples who wed under ACT laws could quickly find their marriages annulled if a High Court challenge was mounted, the ACT opposition has warned.

The ACT government will introduce a bill to the Legislative Assembly to allow same-sex marriages in the territory.

The bill is likely to pass the 17-member Assembly with the support of all eight Labor MLAs and Greens member Shane Rattenbury.

But Liberal leader Jeremy Hanson said it was inappropriate for the Assembly to debate marriage equality legislation.

Mr Hanson said any local same-sex marriage law would inevitably be challenged through the courts because marriage was a matter for the Commonwealth.

''I don't think it's something that we can pass in the Legislative Assembly without it being challenged in the High Court,'' he said.

The ACT government has legal advice that the Assembly can legislate for same-sex marriage without coming into conflict with the federal Marriage Act.

But some legal experts believe state or territory-based same-sex marriage laws could be struck down by the High Court.

Mr Hanson said the eight Liberals in the Assembly had differing views on same-sex marriage but all agreed it was an issue that should be resolved at the federal level.

''Ultimately, I don't think that this is something that we should be driving as a controversial social issue out of the Legislative Assembly of the ACT,'' he said.

''It's a national issue. We just had a federal election and the two parties who were advocating gay marriage went backwards significantly.''

As well as facing hurdles from possible court challenges, an ACT same-sex marriage law could be at risk of being vetoed by the Federal Parliament.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said her party would oppose any attempt to override marriage equality in the ACT.

''Tony Abbott needs to listen to the overwhelming support for equality

rather than bowing to pressure from groups like the Australian Christian Lobby,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.

''As a result of the Greens' Self Government Bill, which was passed in the last term of government, marriage equality in the ACT has been Abbott-proofed by forcing any move to overrule territory legislation must be approved by Federal Parliament. The Greens will stand up to any attempts to dismantle equality in the ACT. ''

Former local Liberals leader Zed Seselja, who appears to have won the second ACT Senate seat at the election, refused to comment on how he would vote if an attempt was made to override the same-sex marriage law.

A spokeswoman for Mr Seselja said it was not yet certain he had won the Senate seat so it was premature to speculate on matters that might or might not come before the Senate.

ACT Labor senator Kate Lundy praised the ACT government for introducing the same-sex marriage bill.

''As a proud member of the ALP, it is my belief that all people are entitled to respect, dignity and the opportunity to participate fully in society regardless of their sexuality,'' Senator Lundy said.

113 comments

  • here we go again... first it were the tasmanian's and now its ACT..
    Forget rising unemployement with 12000 public servents going off the payroll in ACT, higher housing and cost of living, high fuel prices, lets discuss something which is not an issue for the state and waste of time as it will be slapped down in 2 seconds by the High court.
    But Welcome to the greatest moral challenge of our times... stuff the ACT economy and people, lets talk gay marraige.

    Commenter
    Rambo
    Location
    Barton
    Date and time
    September 17, 2013, 8:46AM
    • It doesn't have to be an "or" - we can quite easily deal with both gay marriage and the economy.

      All we need is for Tony Abbott toallow the Federal Libs to conscience vote on gay marriage. The bill would take 5 minutes to pass, and then we can get on with dealing with all the economic issues you talk about.

      Commenter
      dgusten
      Date and time
      September 17, 2013, 9:18AM
    • Because it's the local Labor govt's fault there will be 12,000 job losses in Canberra, or federal Liberal's? I'm sick to death of all this anti gay marriage crap. Lets get it over with and get it done, we're becoming a backwater embarrassment in the modern world.

      Commenter
      Daniel
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      September 17, 2013, 9:38AM
    • This says it all..... ''It's a national issue. We just had a federal election and the two parties who were advocating gay marriage went backwards significantly.''
      .
      Why is it so important to redefine the meaning of the word "marriage", it means between a man and a woman.

      Commenter
      Mr Joe
      Date and time
      September 17, 2013, 9:42AM
    • Joe - I would ask the same question. Why was it so important to change the definition of marriage when Howard did it? Why did he change it to be "between a man and a woman"? Didn't make sense at the time. We should correct that mistake. Like dgusten says, it'll take 5 minutes then we can get on with everything else. It's the LNP and ACL making a big deal out of it.

      Commenter
      Meat Cat
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      September 17, 2013, 10:04AM
    • This is just plain silly. Most of us can walk and chew gum at the same time. I'm sure our relevant legislatures, including that of the ACT, can manage to talk about lots of different issues including marriage equality at the same time.

      Commenter
      Stuart Edser
      Location
      Newcastle
      Date and time
      September 17, 2013, 12:00PM
    • The only people incapable of multi-tasking, it would seem, are those opposed to marriage equality.

      The moment anyone dares suggest that same-sex couples be treated equally, and be permitted to marry, the frothing at the mouth opponents myopically demand that nothing else happen whilst they focus all their efforts at ensuring a minority in society continue to be discriminated against. We just can't allow an equal society after all!

      One can only wonder how all of those societies throughout history that have permitted same-sex couples to marry (and, yes, same-sex marriage has been recorded throughout history, and as far back as the Byzantine era and right up to the modern day) managed to achieve anything else?!?

      Commenter
      rob1966
      Date and time
      September 17, 2013, 12:06PM
    • So legislative discrimination is something you support?. Law's that prevent a specific group from doing that which other members of society take for granted are an affront to humanity and the rule of modern law. It's the 21st centuary, join us in it.

      As citizens and tax payers of Australia, we have an inalienable right to be treated equally before the law, regardless of gender, religion, sexuality or impediment. So I lay out this challenge to those who disagree: Can you argue counter to my legal ascertion, without bringing religion in to it? Equality has never been found nor delivered by such institutions.

      Please keep in mind, there are approx 1700 observed cases of homosexulity in nature, Homesexuality existed long before written history and there are records of it existing throughout written history.

      You must explain, in rational terms, why two consenting adults should be denied the right to a civil marriage in present day Australia. I very much doubt any Australian is able to do so.

      Commenter
      NWO
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 17, 2013, 1:24PM
    • If the Government only focussed on the needs of the majority, you could kiss a lot of infrastructure, business incentives, hospitals in remote areas, internet access in rural communities, and about a billion other bits of legislation and minority groups goodbye (imagine if the ACT was taking the lead on Indigenous rights, would you be so quick to point out that since they're aren't that many, who cares?).

      Don't couch your bigotry in inexpediency.

      Commenter
      Troy
      Location
      CBD
      Date and time
      September 17, 2013, 1:38PM
    • @Meat Cat
      But that's wrong. Marriage has always meant the union of man and woman usually enshrined and recognised in law. Pick up a dictionary sometime. All Howard did was affirm its original and natural meaning.

      Commenter
      Petero
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      September 17, 2013, 2:09PM

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