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in brief: high court overturns ACT marriage equality act

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The High Court has delivered a blow to the first same sex couples wed on Australian soil, deciding the Australian Capital Territory’s Marriage Equality Act cannot co-exist with the Commonwealth Marriage Act.

The six justices of the High Court found same sex marriages could not be recognised in accordance with the federal government’s constitutional powers as the sole legislator on marriage issues.

The court disputed the territory’s arguments it could provide a legally recognised form of relationship for same sex couples – revolving around the legislation’s use of the term ‘marriage’.

The entirety of the territory’s Act – including clauses regarding the rights of parties during marriage and dissolution – has been voided given the ‘comprehensive and exhaustive statement of the law of marriage’ already in place.

As a result, the weddings of at least 27 same sex couples over the window period of the legislation’s enactment and overturning are now invalid.

The Greens introduced a bill to federal parliament today, prior to the High Court’s ruling, to attempt to legislate for marriage equality.

Greens Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young has told the media that the nation is ready for same sex marriage given the fact that the majority of Australians support it.

‘The only way that we will be able to guarantee marriage equality across Australia is to pass reform at a federal level,’ she said.

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