For five days, same-sex couples could get married in Australia’s capital city of Canberra. Those who did were the first in the country to do so. But that fleeting window was slammed shut December 12 by the Australian High Court, which ruled that a recent local law legalizing same-sex marriage was invalid.
The high court said Thursday that the federal Marriage Act, which doesn’t permit same-sex marriage, takes precedence over the law passed by the legislative assembly in Canberra, also known as the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The lawmakers in the ACT, which has a population of about 380,000 people, would have been aware that their same-sex marriage law wouldn’t be allowed to override federal law. But their move has succeeded in fostering renewed debate on the issue in Australia.
Australian gay rights activists said their fight would now shift to lobbying the national parliament to change federal legislation. The activists’ goal of changing the federal Marriage Act appears to be a stern challenge, though. Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his conservative coalition oppose same-sex marriage.
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