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Same-sex marriage laws won't be amended by ACT Government


Lisa Cox and Peter Jean

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher. Photo: Rohan Thomson

The ACT government is risking "destroying the hope of hundreds of couples planning to wed” by refusing to make further amendments to its same-sex marriage laws, lobbyists say.

The ACT government has decided against amending its same-sex marriage law, despite several legal experts calling on it to re-word the legislation to minimise the risk it will be overturned by the High Court.

The ACT Labor caucus decided the law should remain in its current form and says it is confident it can survive the Abbott government’s High Court challenge.

The ACT government made some changes to its marriage equality bill before it was passed by the Legislative Assembly last week.

Legal advisors for Australian Marriage Equality argued more amendments were needed to create a separate status of same-sex marriage that was not inconsistent with marriage as defined by the federal marriage act.

The advocacy group reacted angrily to the government’s decision on Wednesday to proceed to the High Court without further changes, saying it was running “the risk of destroying the hope of hundreds of couples planning to wed”.

But ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the government had “looked very closely at the issues” and concluded “our law is sufficiently well drafted” in its current form.

Mr Corbell reiterated the government’s fears that further amendments to the law would water it down to the point that the legislation became “civil unions by another name”.

He added that the government had sought further advice from its own legal counsel and was “very confident” the law could survive the High Court challenge as drafted.

“That advice has been very clear that the amendments proposed by Australian Marriage Equality are about form rather than substance and do not add anything significant to the standing of the law and the case we are able to put the High Court,” he said.

Australian Marriage Equality deputy director Ivan Hinton said the government was ignoring extensive advice from some of Australia's most eminent constitutional legal minds and called on it to reconsider its decision.

Mr Hinton said “the minor amendments would have eliminated all potential points of conflict with the Federal Marriage Act”.

"The ACT Government's refusal to acknowledge the flaws that exist in the current legislation is remarkable considering the quality of advice that has been provided,” Mr Hinton said.

"Being the first state or territory to enact these laws we had hoped that the ACT would do everything within its authority to ensure these laws survive.

“At this stage we do not have confidence that this is the case."

University of NSW professor of law George Williams, who had advised the government to make changes to the law, said he still believed it had a good chance of surviving a High Court challenge.

“In my view, amendments could have improved the chances of the law in the High Court,’’ Professor Williams said.

“But even without those amendments I still recognise they’ve still got a good case to put to the judges.

“And I can certainly hope that they’ve done enough.’’

51 comments so far

  • Is the Assembly still carping on about this, what about the damaged signs and long grass in my area, could that be considered please.

    Date and time
    October 30, 2013, 12:15PM
    • Not when there is pressing matters like this afoot. Jesus get your priorities in order

      Date and time
      October 30, 2013, 1:01PM
    • No

      Date and time
      October 30, 2013, 1:07PM
    • Mr Barr's and your way or no way hey Milo11 & TheFaceless.

      OLD DOG
      Date and time
      October 30, 2013, 1:30PM
    • Milo11, the only thing Jesus has to do with this is the answer he gave when people questioned him on marriage and divorce (which I'll include here for the benefit of those who think Jesus didn't think much of one-man, one-woman, permanent and exclusive marriage):

      When questioned on the sanctity of marriage, Jesus specifically referred back to Genesis (there are plenty of other references to marriage in the OT he could have sited, but funnily enough he chose to remind everyone of how we were created male and female.. )

      Matt 6:4-6: "Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female....*for this reason* a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.
      There, Jesus' thoughts on marriage and divorce.

      Oh wait, that's not why you mentioned Jesus, is it?

      Date and time
      October 30, 2013, 2:23PM
    • So your aunty can marry your niece and your cousin can marry your other cousin which is perfectly legal under our marriage act but equality is not recognized and that isn't considered discrimination? LOL What a world we live in.

      The Other Guy1
      Date and time
      October 30, 2013, 3:23PM
    • Oh please get a grip. It's either fixing signs and mowing grass or dealing with gay marriage? I think maybe it's not a case of either or.

      Date and time
      October 30, 2013, 3:36PM
    • @old dog. Broken signs and mowing grass is just normal ol' local government stuff. Mayor Gallagher wants to focus on the big issues that might get her re-elected at the next election.

      I'm still wondering why she waited to a new federal government was in power before she commenced the law changes. Six years of federal Labor, nothing. But within a month of the Coalition in power, the 'law changes we must have' commence. Yeah right.

      The Labor faceless men using the gay lobby for their own little ploys and wasting our rates money funding them? Sounds familiar.

      Call Me Sceptical
      Date and time
      October 31, 2013, 8:45AM
    • @ LG
      You have engaged in one of the most gross examples of telling porkies I have seen in a VERY long time.

      Your biblical quote is actually Matt 19:4

      You conveniently omit Matt 19:3 "Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?"

      What a great example of 'out of context', 'cherry picking' and downright manipulation.

      Halcyon Ford
      Date and time
      October 31, 2013, 8:47AM
    • @Halcyon Ford - I think you missed the point sunshine :)

      Date and time
      October 31, 2013, 9:59AM

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