Same-Sex Marriage Bill passes in ACT
History was made today when the ACT became the first jurisdiction in Australia to pass legislation on Same-Sex Marriage, voting 9-8 in favour of the Bill.
The Marriage Equality Same-Sex Bill was tabled with amendments to the Legislative Council at 10am this morning, where after an hour and a half of debate, the Bill was passed with the support of Labor and The Greens.
The Marriage Equality Same-Sex Bill will allow same sex couples from anywhere in Australia to be married by a celebrant in the ACT.
Thousands tuned in to watch history unfold via a Live Feed from the Legislative Assembly.
It is expected couples may be able to marry in the ACT as early as December.
Federal Attorney General George Brandis has asked the ACT not to proceed with weddings until after the High Court Challenge has been resolved, saying it would be distressing for individuals who entered into same-sex marriage under the ACT laws to find their marriages were invalid.
ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has refused this request saying last week – “we’ll see you in court”.
In today's meeting of the Legislative Assembly, Gallagher said there is no reason for people to discriminate against Same-Sex couples and it was time for all Australians to get behind marriage equality.
The minister made a passionate speech in favour of the Bill and thanked the dedication of her staff and other advocates in moving forward with the Bill.
"No leader says a law must stand for all time - we do the best we can at the time we find ourselves in," said Gallagher."it's time we meet our responsibiluity to update the laws of the past for the people of today."
NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSW GLRL) congratulated the ACT on the success of their legslation.
"The passage of the Marriage Equality Same-Sex Bill in the ACT is an extremely significant step towards the goal of full marriage equality across Australia," says Justin Koonin, co-convenor of the NSW GLRL.
"For the first time, same-sex couples will be able to be married somewhere in Australia, and that is a wonderful thing."
Koonin says he hopes the passage of the Bill will give politicians in NSW and other states the courage to do the same.
"We will be watching developments closely, particularly the pending High Court challenge by the Federal Government. We commend our colleagues in the ACT for their hard work and commitment."
ACT resident and Deputy Director of Australian Marriage Equality, Ivan Hinton, was overjoyed at the result.
"Today's vote in the ACT is a day many Australians have waited for. Historically, the ACT has said loving and committed same-sex couples deserve and will now have the right to get married," said Hinton.
"This law with strengthen same-sex couples and their families, and will be welcomed by all Australians who support fairness and family."
Hinton also expressed that the result in the ACT sent a message to the Federal Government.
"Today's vote sends a strong message to the federal government and state governments that loving and committed same-sex couples want to get married and want to uphold it's values and responsibilities"
Last week, Australian Marriage Equality set up a register for couples interested in marrying in the ACT. To date there are over 1000 couples expressing interest in an ACT marriage.