CANBERRA, December 4, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An Australian court has “reserved judgment” on whether a proposed law to allow “gay marriage” in one state is unconstitutional and has decided to wait until five days after it is to come into effect. Currently, federal law specifically bans “same-sex marriage” and a law proposing to allow it in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is scheduled go into effect on Saturday. The High Court, that has the authority to strike down the law, said it would consider the case again on December 12th.
The ruling came yesterday after the federal government told the court in Tuesday’s hearing that a change to the law to expand marriage to include same-sex partnerings is unconstitutional.
The block against “gay marriage” at the federal level is due to wording placed into the Marriage Act by the Howard government in 2004 that defines marriage as only existing between one man and one woman. In addition, the amendment added wording specifically to exclude homosexual unions, “Certain unions are not marriages. A union solemnised in a foreign country between: (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman; must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.”
Supporters of the ACT law argue that it does not impinge on federal law, however, maintaining that it can exist “alongside” it. They say that the federal law does not specifically exclude lower jurisdictions from adopting laws to allow same-sex partners to “marry”.
Australian solicitor-general Justin Gleeson told the court on Tuesday that the definition of marriage must remain the sole province of the federal government. ACT law “is not to be construed to be so extensive to allow the Territory to impose laws which alter, impair or detract from federal law,” Gleeson said.
Despite the legal challenge, the Abbott government has not sought any injunction to stop “gay marriages” going forward in the five day waiting period. A spokesman for the lobby group Australian Marriage Equality said that at least 12 partners are waiting to take advantage of the law.
ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell told media, “Couples who have given their notice can get married this weekend, albeit with the uncertainty surrounding this case yet to be resolved.”
Homosexualist activists regard Australia as one of the most “friendly” countries in the world, and maintain that there is only one bastion left to fall, that of federal recognition of “gay marriage” throughout the country. Apart from the ACT law, registered “domestic partnerships” are legal in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia.
Unregistered “de facto unions,” with rights and responsibilities the same as common law heterosexual relationships, are recognised in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.