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Australian Capital Territory legislature passes marriage equality

Marriage equality

Parliament House, Australia
The Australian Parliament House in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) yesterday approved a marriage equality bill which will go into effect 30 days after after it is signed by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, according to the Washington Blade:

Lawmakers who represent Australia’s capital city on Tuesday approved a bill that would for the first time extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in the country.

Legislators in the Australian Capital Territory in which Canberra is located passed the measure by a 9-8 vote margin. The Canberra Times reported gays and lesbians from across the country would be able to marry in the territory by the end of the year.

“Today’s vote in the ACT is a day many Australians have waited for,” Ivan Hinton, deputy director of Australian Marriage Equality, said after the vote. “Historically, the ACT has said loving and committed same-sex couples deserve and will now have the right to get married.”

The Blade also noted that legislators in the states of Tasmania and New South Wales plan to consider marriage equality bills in the next few weeks.  Tasmania’s lower house approved a similar bill last summer which failed in the upper house a few months later.

Australia has a similar federal system to the United States, which means that states can approve equal marriage rights even if the federal government does not.  Last fall, a marriage equality bill failed in both the Australian House of Representatives and the Senate, since then-Labour Prime Minister Julia Gillard opposed the bill and the members of her party were forced to vote against it because of parliamentary procedure.

Australia’s current prime minister, Tony Abbott of the Liberal Party, opposes marriage equality, and his administration plans to challenge the ACT’s equal marriage move in high court.  Last week, ACT Attorney General Simon Corbell said he would vigorously defend the law in court if it were challenged.  Abbott has said that he might consider a conscience vote–in which members of parliament are not bound to vote the party line–if a new federal marriage equality bill were proposed.

New Zealand, Australia’s neighbor, passed legislation in April extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples.

1 Comment

  • 1. Marriage equality updates&hellip  |  October 25, 2013 at 7:17 am

    […] this week, we wrote about a marriage equality bill that had passed the legislature of the Australian Capital […]

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