Gay and lesbian couples will be able to wed in the ACT after
a bill to legalise same-sex marriage passed the territory's
People in the public gallery clapped and sang Love Is In
The Air when the bill passed shortly before midday.
The first marriages are likely to take place from December.
But the federal government has flagged a challenge to the
laws in the High Court.
Federal Attorney-General George Brandis says his government
has legal advice that the ACT's legislation is invalid
because it is inconsistent with the provisions of the
Commonwealth Marriage Act.
"Irrespective of anyone's views on the desirability or
otherwise of same-sex marriage, it is clearly in Australia's
interests that there be nationally consistent marriage laws,"
a spokesman for Senator Brandis said in a statement to AAP on
Senator Brandis has asked the ACT government not to put the
new laws into effect until the court can determine their
validity, but Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has vowed to
"I don't believe this bill in any way challenges, diminishes
or undermines the religion or faith of any individual," she
said during assembly debate on the bill.
"If we are to be judged by a higher being on this law, then
let it be so."
Ms Gallagher's openly gay deputy Andrew Barr broke down in
tears during debate on the bill.
"The sacrifice, the suffering, the struggle and the tireless
exertions and passionate concern of gay and lesbian
Canberrans, their parents and their families finds a voice
and finds a champion in this Assembly," said Mr Barr, who is
in a civil union with partner Anthony Toms.
More than 200 people were present to watch the debate, with
the public gallery packed and people who couldn't squeeze in
watching the debate broadcast in another room.
Opposition leader Jeremy Hanson told the assembly legalising
same-sex marriage was not a responsible course of action.
"We do not see the ACT Assembly as a vehicle to drive
national agendas on social agendas," he said.
Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury, who has the deciding vote in the
17-member assembly, said it was a landmark moment for the
Federal Labor MP for the Canberra electorate of Fraser,
Andrew Leigh, congratulated the ACT on the bill and said the
Abbott government's challenge plan was "mean-spirited".
"What the ACT has done is simply allow two people who love
each other to have that love recognised by way of marriage,"
Dr Leigh said in a statement.
"It isn't going to weaken heterosexual marriages like mine.
This is going to make us stronger as a society."