Main | Thursday, September 19, 2013

AUSTRALIA: Prime Minister Tony Abbott May Challenge Marriage Bill In ACT

Newly elected Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has indicated that he may attempt to challenge the just-introduced marriage equality bill for the Australian Capital Territory. The ACT is Australia's version of Washington, DC.
The federal government is considering whether it should block the ACT's proposed same-sex marriage legislation. The ACT government introduced a bill to permit same-sex marriages into the Legislative Assembly on Thursday morning. It is expected to pass the 17-member Assembly with the support of all eight Labor and the only Greens member. Mr Abbott later said the Commonwealth had constitutional responsibility for marriage and Attorney-General George Brandis would seek advice on the ACT bill. The ACT is entitled to do what it can within the law," Mr Abbott said. "And, as you know, under the constitution the Commonwealth has responsibility for marriage. The attorney will be seeking advice on precisely how far that extends."
Abbott can thwart the bill either by a challenge to the High Court or by repealing it through a vote by both houses of the national Parliament.

UPDATE: Here's how one anti-gay group is spinning a potential challenge to the High Court.
Barrister Christopher Brohier, of Lawyers for the Preservation of the Definition of Marriage, says there are all sorts of scenarios whereby the laws could be taken to the High Court. "A group or a married couple for example might argue that say their marriage is affected because before the legislation if they went out to a party and a man said 'I'm married', everybody would know he's married to a girl. But after the legislation he might say well, 'I've got to explain that I'm married to a girl rather than a boy and that has an effect on me personally'."

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