Malcolm Turnbull: Australian Parliament May Legalise Same-Sex Marriage

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By Reissa Su | December 13, 2013 12:16 PM EST

There is still hope for the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia with Federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull saying that Parliament may consider changing marriage laws to permit same-sex couples to marry in Australia.

The High Court of Australia has decided to strike down the same-sex marriage laws of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) on Dec. 12. The ACT Marriage Equality law was passed in October but only took effect in November. Same-sex couples who wanted to get married in Australia were required to provide four weeks' notice before the ceremonies.

Since the High Court had invalidated ACT's gay marriage laws, the decision had closed the door on the chances of similar legislation being passed across the country. A positive High Court decision would have pressured the Coalition government to legalise same-sex marriage.

However, Mr Turnbull said it is possible that a private members bill will be introduced to Parliament to change existing marriage laws in Australia. The current federal law states that marriage should only be between a man and woman.

According to the High Court, the federal government has the power to legalise same-sex marriage. The court said the matter of legalization is reserved for the federal parliament. The ACT's marriage equality laws "cannot operate concurrently with the federal Act."

Mr Turnbull said the Coalition can agree to a conscience vote to decide on the matter. As for the matter of passing a new bill in favor of gay marriage, Mr Turnbull said it was too early to tell since most of the Parliament members are new.

However, he thinks that "there is reasonable prospect of a change in law." Mr Turnbull noted that governments around the world are already making changes in support of marriage equality laws.

He said English-speaking nations around the world recognise same-sex marriage like Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and at least one-third of the United States.

Same-sex couples not giving up

For same-sex couple Narell Majic and Ash Watson, the High Court's decision to overturn the ACT's marriage equality laws was a disappointing blow. After less than 48 hours of wedding bliss, their legal union was annulled because of the High Court's decision. The couple has yet to receive their wedding rings.

Ms Majic and Ms Watson said they will still collect their wedding rings which were not ready for the wedding ceremony on Dec. 10. Despite the annulment, Ms Watson said the High Court's decision will not change the way they feel about each other.

Even if their marriage was short-lived, the same-sex couple said they will get married again if Parliament decides to legalise same-sex marriage. 

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