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Same-sex marriage: ACT fears the worst ahead of High Court decision

West Australian politician Stephen Dawson (right) and partner Dennis Liddelow.

West Australian politician Stephen Dawson (right) and partner Dennis Liddelow.

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher is preparing for the worst when the High Court hands down its decision on Canberra's same sex marriage laws, but is still hopeful they will survive the Commonwealth's challenge.

The High Court is due to rule on the constitutionality of the law on Thursday, after a weekend of same-sex ceremonies across the capital.

Ms Gallagher said that if the territory lost the case, her government would examine the judgement and "see what the next steps are, if there can be any".

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher.

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher. Photo: Jay Cronan

“If they rule that the Commonwealth’s covered the field, then really the issue goes squarely to the Federal Parliament... The issue’s not going to go away and the fact that it’s in the High Court, I think has progressed national debate on the subject,” she said.

Ms Gallagher is due to dine with Prime Minister Tony Abbott during a COAG event on Thursday, but she said the matter would not broached at the time.

“I still think the point’s been made,” she said.

“We tried to do what we can here locally and it’s been warmly embraced by the community. The issue is firmly on the national agenda, which is where it should be until it’s resolved.”

Her comments come as politicians from the three major parties set up a federal cross-party working group on marriage equality.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said she, Labor Senator Louise Pratt and Liberal Senator Sue Boyce were joining forces.

“It’s only by working together that we’re going to achieve this essential reform," she said.

“Equality minded members of the Labor, Liberal and the Greens parties will now have to do everything they possibly can to get marriage equality across the line."

She called on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to allow his party a conscience vote on marriage equality.

Meanwhile, Western Australian politician Lisa Baker is preparing a private members bill to introduce same-sex marriage legislation in the state.

The Labor MLA said she and her colleagues were waiting on the High Court’s decision to ensure her proposal was “watertight”.

She said she was confident the move would be supported by voters, following a 2012 Galaxy poll showing 64 per cent of Australians would support such a law.

Ms Baker said she hoped to get the bill introduced by the second half of 2014 as the international community continued to embrace marriage equality.

“I think that Australia is not on the crest of the wave, but we’re paddling not too far behind,” she said.

The move has already gained support from Labor colleague Stephen Dawson.

The WA State Labor MLC married long-term partner Dennis Liddelow in Canberra over the weekend, flying in for the 12.01am ceremony outside Parliament House.

Mr Dawson said he and Mr Liddelow chose the venue to send a message to the Federal Government.

“Dennis and I are both quite private people when it comes to our relationship,” he said.

“We thought long and hard, not so much about getting married, but about making an issue of the fact that we’re doing this. We think everybody should have this right.”

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