CHIEF Minister Katy Gallagher says the ACT Government’s campaign to legalise same-sex marriage will “continue to gain momentum” despite today’s ruling by the High Court that ACT’s Marriage Equality Bill was unlawful.Ms Gallagher and Attorney General Simon Corbell addressed a media pack today, expressing disappointment in the decision.
“We had fought for this legislation long and hard, and we were very proud of the legislation to pass through the Legislative Assembly,” Ms Gallagher said.
“We had 31 [same-sex] weddings in the ACT to date, but the decision by the High Court makes it very clear. Federal parliament is the only place that can resolve discrimination against same-sex couples. From the ACT Government’s point of view, whilst we are seeing a setback today, the momentum for this campaign continues to grow. And it will now shift firmly to every federal member of Parliament, every senator, and [Prime Minister Tony Abbott], who has been directed by the High Court that this matter sits there and can only sit there. Each and every member should be given a conscience vote.”
According to a statement on the High Court’s website this morning, the judges found the ACT laws could not operate alongside federal laws as only the federal parliament had the power under the constitution to legislate on same sex marriage, and that the Marriage Act does not allow or recognise marriages between same sex couples.
The finding means the ACT Act cannot operate concurrently with the federal Act.
Couples who married in a five day window before today’s ruling have now had their marriages declared invalid.
Asked if he regretted bringing in the bill, Mr Corbell said, “Ask any of the same-sex couples who were married over the weekend – I think you would find they would all say there are no regrets.”
The Marriage Equality Bill was introduced into the ACT Legislative Assembly in September this year.