Tuesday, December 3, 2013

World News

High Court allows same-sex marriages in Capital territory pending final decision
By Desmond Rutherford | CANBERRA -- Australia's High Court announced Tuesday that it will make its decision over the Abbott government's challenge to the Capital Territory's (ACT) same-sex marriage law next Thursday, and in the interim will allow the law to take effect this coming Saturday. ACT's legislature had passed the Capital Territory's same-sex marriage law in late October.
ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell, who is defending the Capital Territory against the government suit, said that same-sex marriages can take place this weekend because the government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott did not seek an injunction to halt the law from taking effect.
"I'm sure couples will welcome the fact that the law will come into operation and that they can marry under the law, albeit, with the prospect that there is some risk to those ceremonies because of the uncertainty surrounding the High Court case until we receive the court's judgement," Corbell said to reporters after the hearing.
Legal analysts noted that the primary question at issue in the suit is whether the law is inconsistent with the Federal Marriage Act. 
In arguments heard Tuesday, the Australian Solicitor-General, Justin Gleeson, told justices that only the Federal Parliament has the right to define marriage in Australia. He also argued that marriage is a common genus that is not divisible into multiple species, and that marriage is the union between a man and a woman.
Corbell's legal retort disputed that claim, telling the high court that same-sex marriages can coexist alongside the more traditional form of marriage.
After the hearing, Australian Marriage Equality's lawyer Anna Brown told reporters that the ACT Government should have the right to legislate for same-sex marriages.
"The ACT sought to argue that the ACT marriage laws should be held to be valid because it governed only same-sex relationships and that wasn't in conflict with the Federal Marriage Act," she said.
A spokesperson for the ACT Government says 47 same-sex couples have secured licences ahead of Saturday to get married.