Australia High Court Overturns Same-Sex Marriage Law

Jim Burroway

December 11th, 2013

Only the Federal Parliament can provide same-sex marriage, says the High Court:

The judges found the ACT law could not operate alongside the federal law as only the Federal Parliament had the power under the constitution to legislate on same sex marriage. They said the federal Marriage Act did not allow or recognise marriages between same sex couples.

The court held the ACT’s act provided for marriage equality for same sex couples, not, as the territory argued, for a form of legally recognised relationship that was different from marriage. The finding means the ACT act cannot operate concurrently with the federal act.

“Because the ACT act does not validly provide for the formation of same sex marriages, its provisions about the rights of parties to such marriages and the dissolution of such marriages cannot have separate operation and are also of no effect,” the statement said. “The court held that the whole of the ACT act is of no effect.”

The marriages of those who were joined together the past five days have been dissolved by the Court’s action.

It all seemed like something of a longshot. In Australia, marriages are regulated by the Federal government, and not the individual states and territories, a reversal of the legal framework in the U.S. Under Federal law, marriage in Australia is explicitly between opposite sex couples, thanks to a 2004 amendment to the Marriage Act that was imposed by the Liberal Party (which is actually the socially and economically conservative party). The Australia Capital Territory (ACT) enacted what they argued was a completely separate institution called “same-sex marriage,” which, their argument went, was completely different and independent from the Federally-defined and regulated institution of marriage. The High Court didn’t buy that argument.

The Liberal government immediately challenged the ACT law as soon as it was enacted. Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbot has resisted calls for allowing a conscience vote on a marriage equality bill in the Federal Parliament.


December 11th, 2013

It turns out that US-style federalism has its advantages. Oh well, maybe it will turn out that the straights-only marriage law is unconstitutional. It is, if the Australian constitution is worth its salt.

Stefano A

December 11th, 2013

While it’s a blow for state’s being able to legislate for same-sex marriage, the upside is that the decision clears the way for a federal law, if the federal Parliament ever gets around to passing one of the bills introduced.

One of the High Court’s critical points was that the word “marriage” in the Constitution means “the union of any two natural people” and not restricted to unions between a man and a woman. Prior to the court’s decision that was never clarified before.

So, when/if the federal parliament does legislate for marriage equality, religious groups won’t be able to challenge any federal same-sex marriage law on the grounds that the Constitution defines marriage as one man and one man. It does not.

And I’d be sceptical of the federal parliament amending the constitution to out-right ban same-sex marriage. They could try, but I don’t think it’d pass as I believe there’d be too much blowback.

Stefano A

December 12th, 2013


This obviously should have read:

So, when/if the federal parliament does legislate for marriage equality, religious groups won’t be able to challenge any federal same-sex marriage law on the grounds that the Constitution defines marriage as one man and one man woman. It does not.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts

The Things You Learn from the Internet

"The Intel On This Wasn't 100 Percent"

From Fake News To Real Bullets: This Is The New Normal

NC Gov McCrory Throws In The Towel

Colorado Store Manager Verbally Attacks "Faggot That Voted For Hillary" In Front of 4-Year-Old Son

Associated Press Updates "Alt-Right" Usage Guide

A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.