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in brief: commonwealth’s challenge to ACT same-sex marriage laws has begun

In late October, the ACT Legislative Assembly passed a law allowing same-sex couples to get married.

The first weddings under the new law are due to take place next Saturday and today, the High Court has heard the Commonwealth’s challenge to the new marriage law.

The main question under review is whether or not the new law is consistent with the Federal Marriage Act.

George Williams, a constitutional law expert, says that the Commonwealth is arguing that the Marriage Legislation and Family Law Act have already set up an ‘exclusive, complete regime’ for dealing with marriage.

The Commonwealth Solicitor General told the High Court that ‘marriage is the union between a man and a woman’, but the ACT has argues that same-sex marriages can coexist alongside the traditional form of marriage.

Williams stated that the High Court’s decision will really come down to ‘what scope a territory has to pass laws on the same topic as the Commonwealth.’

UPDATE: In a new development on Tuesday evening, it was revealed that the High Court has reserved its decision on the challenge by the Commonwealth.

The court says it will hand down its decision next Thursday, while Australia’s first ever same-sex marriages take place this coming Saturday.

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