Australian prime minister rushes gay marriage into law

2017-12-08 20:11
Members of parliament, from left, Cathy McGowan, Adam Brandt and Andrew Wilkie celebrate the passing of the Marriage Amendment Bill in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra on December 7. (Mick Tsikas, AAP Image via AP)

Members of parliament, from left, Cathy McGowan, Adam Brandt and Andrew Wilkie celebrate the passing of the Marriage Amendment Bill in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra on December 7. (Mick Tsikas, AAP Image via AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Canberra - Australia's prime minister rushed gay marriage into law on Friday by gaining a final signature on a bill hours after it was overwhelming endorsed by Parliament and as the nation started planning weddings that can take place in a month.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull travelled to Government House where Governor-General Peter Cosgrove signed the bill into law on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, Australia's constitutional head of state.

Cosgrove's signature makes gay marriage legal in Australia from Saturday, when same-sex couples who wed overseas will be recognised as married under Australian law. Couples who intend to marry must give a calendar-month notice, making gay weddings legal on January 9, 2018, Turnbull said.

Neville Wills, 98, plans to marry his partner of 39 years, Ian Fenwicke, 74, next month.

Some practical reasons to marry become pressing with age. Relatives have contested wills that left estates to same-sex partners, and gays and lesbians want rights to access and medical consultation when a partner is hospitalised.

"The reason is to have a legal relationship that's not in any way challenged – and, of course, we love each other," Wills said. "We'll get the legal relationship straightened out in January. Call it a wedding if you like, I'm not romantic," he added.

'Indeterminate, intersex or unspecified'

The Attorney-General's Department on Friday published online a new form for couples to announce their intention to marry with tick-box options of male, female and "x".

The form defines "x'' as "indeterminate, intersex or unspecified".

While the previous document referred to a "bride" and "bridegroom", the new form adds the option of "partner".

Turnbull described Parliament voting late on Thursday for gay marriage, with only four lawmakers registering their opposition, as a historic moment.

"Containing my emotions to a suitable, prime ministerial level of calm is quite challenging. I am absolutely pumped. I think this is so wonderful," he said after Parliament passed the bill and the public gallery erupted with a standing ovation.

'Celebrations'

Celebrations continued late into the night in Oxford Street, the centre of Sydney's gay nightlife which is in Turnbull's electorate.

Turnbull has been a long-term advocate for marriage equality and is the first prime minister to attend Sydney's renowned annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which is also in his electorate.

Hours after Parliament's action, a Sydney municipal council offered free venues to host same-sex marriages.

The Inner West Council is accepting bookings for same-sex marriages in its halls, community centers and parks at no charge over a 100-day period from January 7, 2018.

"This is an historic day in the struggle for civil rights in Australia," Mayor Darcy Byrne said.

It follows the downtown Sydney municipality's decision in October to offer free venues for same-sex weddings should they become lawful.

The Australian Capital Territory government, which administers Canberra, the national capital, introduced its own same-sex marriage law in 2013 that was overturned by the High Court within a week.

ACT Attorney General Gordon Ramsay said his government would waive the Aus $55 cost of wedding certificate for any of the 31 same-sex couples whose short-lived marriages were ruled invalid and want to marry again.

"It's a way of being able to acknowledge the difficulties that some of those couples have been through," Ramsay told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Anne-Marie Delahunt, who married her partner Meg Clark in Canberra in 2013, said she would take up the government's offer when they marry again in February.

"I think it was a touching measure from the ACT Government to say that our second marriage certificate will be free," Delahunt told ABC.

Gay marriage was endorsed by 62% of voters who responded to a national postal ballot by November.

Most gay rights advocates believed the government should have allowed marriages years ago and saw various ideas for a public survey as a delaying tactic. The UN Human Rights Committee had called the ballot survey "an unnecessary and divisive public opinion poll".

Read more on:    malcolm turnbull  |  australia  |  gay marriage

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

And the Paws24 and Hill's winners are ...

Find out who the winners of our Paws24 pet pics and Q&a competitions are...

 

Paws

Keep your family and pets safe from rabies
5 scientific benefits of owning a cat
Why we love cats
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.