Marriage Equality one step closer for ACT
The ACT look set to be the first Australian jurisdiction to pass marriage equality laws, with hopes that same-sex couples will be able to wed in the territory by the end of the year.
ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher will introduce the Marriage Equality Bill 2013 to the Legislative Assembly today (Thursday).
It is expected the bill will pass as it has support from both the Greens Minister Shane Rottenbury and the Labor minority.
Gallagher says the ACT government is working towards people being able to marry under the law before the end of the year, although she admits a High Court challenge cannot be ruled out nor the possibility of the law being overturned by a vote in both houses of federal parliament.
Speaking to ABC Radio Gallagher commented:
"We know there's some risks attached with this legislation but we don't think those risks should stop us proceeding with a commitment we made to the people of the ACT in the election campaign last year."
Gallagher’s government had made a commitment to marriage equality prior to the federal election.
"We went to the election seeking to be the most LGBTI friendly community in Australia," she said. "This I think positions us well."
Under the new law, same sex couples, who currently can't marry under the Commonwealth's Marriage Act will be able to wed in the ACT. Couples from outside the ACT could marry in the territory, however their marriage may not be recognised within their home state.
It is not the first time the territory has legislated for same sex couples, In 2006 the ACT introduced the Civil Unions Bill which was overturned by the Howard Government.
Australian Marriage Equality deputy national director Ivan Hinton, a Canberra local, is pleased and proud his territory will be the first to offer equal love.
He told the Canberra Times; ''To see them move to actually achieve marriage equality in the territory is a proud moment for me,'' Mr Hinton said. ''It's something that we've expected for quite a while.''
Mr Hinton said the territory was moving quickly on the issue, spurred on by recent victories for marriage equality in the UK and New Zealand. ''I anticipate that towards the end of this year when we actually see this bill passed we are going to get a large number of Canberrans celebrating their relationships with family and friends for the first time on Australian soil.''
The Australian Greens LGBTI spokesperson Sentaor Sarah Hanson Young called on members of the Labor party to stand together in support of the bill.
“The Labor party must bind their MPs to vote en bloc in defending the ACT marriage equality laws. It is time for Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese, as potential leaders, to tell Australians they will draw the party line in supporting marriage equality laws in the ACT,” said Hanson-Young.
“This isn’t a conscience vote issue; it’s about allowing the ACT to have confidence that when it passes legislation it will not be undone when the Coalition government walks into the chamber next month.
"The Labor party campaigned on same-sex marriage during the election and it is only right that they support equality now. Any moves to weaken this position by voting with Mr Abbott would be a breach of trust with the public."