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Australian Labor MP to marry in ACT despite High Court challenge to equal marriage law

Rochelle Sampy December 6, 2013
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Australian Labor politician Stephen Dawson will marry his same-sex partner today irrespective of a High Court challenge to the Australian Capital Territory’s equal marriage law.

Although a legal challenge by the Federal Government could render same-sex marriages void in the next week, Mr Dawson believes that he has a responsibility, as an MP, to advocate for equal marriage.

In an interview with ABC Local Radio, he said: “We believe that we are in a privileged position and that we should take the opportunity to shine a light on the issue and to hopefully encourage governments, particularly the federal government, on this issue.

“We’ll cherish the moment, however short lived it may be. But this I guess is the first time that the High Court, the highest court in the land, can actually make a decision and set us straight on the issue.”

He continued: “A good number of people in the community are supportive of marriage equality and in fact another significant number, it doesn’t bother them, so I think there’s a clear majority who aren’t against it and so we’re making a statement that we think Australia is ready for this.”

Although the ACT legislation came into effect in October, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned anyone planning to marry to wait until the constitutional challenge against the law is resolved.  

Despite having a gay sibling,  Mr Abbott continues to oppose equal marriage and has supported efforts to halt the ACT’s equal marriage law in the courts.

In October, Christine Forster, the sister of Mr Abbott, revealed that she had proposed to her partner Virginia Edwards.

In the same month, Mr Abbott said that the ACT court challenge was about upholding the Australian constitution and about preserving a “uniform approach throughout the commonwealth” to marriage laws.

Previously, Australian Greens Senator Hanson-Young warned Mr Abbott not to overturn the law if passed, due to the vast amount of public support.

Prior to taking effect, several amendments were made to the ACT’s bill in order to safeguard its legal passage. 

Same-sex couples living in the ACT have been permitted to register their partnerships since 2008 as well as hold civil partnership ceremonies since 2009, when the ACT became the first territory in Australia to introduce such legislation.

However, equal marriage continues to be banned in Australia at a federal level despite efforts to legalise the measure failed in the Australian Parliament in September 2012.


Related topics: Australia

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