The couples who wed when same-sex marriage was briefly legal in the Australian Capital Territory four years ago should have their original wedding dates recognised under federal law, the ACT Greens say.
ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury (pictured) wrote to federal Attorney-General Christian Porter to ask if the 31 Canberra couples who married in the 2013 wed again under the recently amended Commonwealth marriage law, a retrospective date of their marriage could be recorded.
The move would not give the couples automatic recognition of their previous marriage, but would be “the decent thing to do”, Mr Rattenbury told the Canberra Times.
“For those couples who were married in 2013, the day they gathered together with family and friends to declare their commitment to each other should be recognised as such,” he said.
“These relationships have always been legitimate – and it’s time our laws reflected this.”
Senator Dean Smith’s marriage equality bill passed federal parliament in December last year, four years after 31 couples wed under ACT law in 2013.
But the ACT marriages were voided after the High Court ruled the ACT parliament did not have the power to legislate for marriage.
When same-sex marriage became legal across Australia last year, the ACT government offered to waive the $55 certificate fee for couples married previously under the ACT’s laws.
But a spokesperson for Mr Porter told the Canberra Times because the High Court found the 31 marriages were never legally valid, they could not be treated the same as overseas marriages, which were automatically recognised under Australian law when the marriage equality legislation came into effect.
The spokesperson said while it was disappointing for the Canberra couples, they could now choose to legally marry under the Commonwealth’s amended law.