CANBERRA, December 12, 2013 ( – In a unanimous ruling today the Australian High (Supreme) Court stuck down the same-sex “marriage” law passed less than a month ago by the parliament of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

The Australian Capital Territory is a statutory territory created to house the federal seat of government, and is mainly associated with the national capital, Canberra. It has internal self-government, but lacks the full legislative independence enjoyed by the Australian states.

The Court ruled that the Australian Capital Territory's Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013 was inconsistent with the Federal Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and was therefore unconstitutional.

“The Marriage Act does not now provide for the formation or recognition of marriage between same sex couples,” the court said in a summary of its judgment. “The Marriage Act provides that a marriage can be solemnised in Australia only between a man and a woman and that a union solemnised in a foreign country between a same sex couple must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia. That Act is a comprehensive and exhaustive statement of the law of marriage.” 

“The Court held that the object of the ACT Act is to provide for marriage equality for same sex couples and not for some form of legally recognised relationship which is relevantly different from the relationship of marriage which federal law provides for and recognises,” the summary said. 

“Accordingly, the ACT Act cannot operate concurrently with the federal Act.” 

The Court also determined that only the federal parliament has the power under the Australian constitution to legislate on same-sex “marriage.” 

Christian and pro-family groups praised the ruling. 

“It’s important for marriage laws to continue to be administered federally – this is why the Marriage Act was passed in 1961 to have uniform marriage laws,” said Lyle Shelton, managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby. 

“Marriage between a man and a woman is good for society and beneficial for governments to uphold in legislation. It’s about providing a future for the next generation where they can be raised by their biological parents, wherever possible.” 

However, Mr. Shelton also expressed concern for those same-sex couples who thought they were married under the ACT legislation. 

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“Understandably they will be disappointed at the decision handed down today and it is unfortunate they were put in this position,” Mr. Shelton said. 

“The debate about changing the definition of marriage has been given a fair go for the past three years with nine parliamentary attempts to change it,” he observed. “Like the republican debate, the public and parliamentarians have had plenty of time to evaluate it and it is now time to move on.” 

Dr. David Phillips, president of Family Voice Australia, praised the High Court’s “common sense” in overturning the ACT Act. 

“It is good to have judicial confirmation of what most Australians already knew – that any state or territory laws for so-called same-sex ‘marriage’ would be unconstitutional,” Dr. Phillips said. “Debates in state parliaments on this issue have been a waste of time.” 

Dr. Phillips stressed that while the Court had ruled that the federal parliament technically has the power to change the definition of marriage, such a change would not be in the best interests of Australian society. 

“Calling a same-sex union ‘marriage’ would normalise the deliberate, artificial creation of children who would grow up without one of their biological parents,” Dr. Phillips said. 

“Most of the gay parenting studies touted in the media are seriously flawed, using volunteer parents who report on the progress of their own children. The only methodologically sound research shows that children are safest by far when raised by both their biological married parents. 

“I hope that federal MPs will continue to recognise that marriage between a man and a woman has been recognised by governments and given status for one reason – that it provides the safest environment to raise the next generation, our nation’s future,” Dr. Phillips concluded.


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