Gay and lesbian couples should be able to get married in the ACT by the end of the year.


The ACT government is introducing a Marriage Equality Bill to legalise same sex marriage on Thursday.

It’s expected to pass the Legislative Assembly as soon as October, with the Greens supporting the Labor minority government on the move.

That would make the ACT the first Australian jurisdiction to allow same sex marriage.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher says the government is working towards people being able to marry under the law before the end of the year.

But she concedes it could be subject to challenge in the High Court or overturning by a vote of both houses of federal parliament.

“We know there’s some risks attached with this legislation,” Ms Gallagher told ABC radio.

“But we don’t think those risks should stop us proceeding with a commitment we made to the people of the ACT in the election campaign last year.”

Her government had waited to see if the former federal Labor government would legalise same sex marriage but decided to go ahead with territory legislation since no national position emerged.

Under the law, anyone who can’t marry under the Commonwealth’s Marriage Act will be able to wed.

The commonwealth act defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Couples from outside the ACT would be able to get married in the territory but their relationships may not be recognised in their home state.

“There’s a very strong desire by couples including couples in the ACT to have their partnerships recognised legally,” Ms Gallagher said.

“I don’t think that people who want to use the Marriage Equality Bill will not use it because of fear that it may be overturned in the future.”

Her government hadn’t discussed the planned laws with new Prime Minister Tony Abbott but she didn’t expect they would come as a surprise to him.

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