To the joy of the LGBT community in Australia, it was announced this week that the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is set to become the first jurisdiction to allow gay marriage
The government of the territory that houses Australia’s capital, Canberra, said it would introduce legislation to legalise gay marriage in the next sitting of parliament.
However, the Australian Christian Lobby has now indicated it will exert pressure on Tony Abbott's new government to use its powers to override the laws.
Speaking to The Australian, the group's managing director Lyle Shelton said Mr Abbott's government should override the laws.
"It's in the parliament's interest to protect the constitution, the constitutional power for marriage," Shelton said.
"It is a constitutional nonsense for a territory to be seeking to legislate in this area. So I think the parliament would have to take action on this."
Shelton then described the latest gay marriage bill to be put forward as "a bit of a nonsense."
He conceded the ACT government had won an election promising to deliver this reform.
Abbot, who in the past described same-sex marriage as the "fashion of the moment", has consistently emphasised his view that marriage is between a man and a woman.
"My idea is to build on the strength of our society and I support, by and large, evolutionary change," he said.
"I'm not someone who wants to see radical change based on the fashion of the moment."
In the run up to his election, Abbott said the issue of same-sex marriage would not be a priority for him, even though his sister, Christine Forster, is a lesbian.
The ACT Government’s proposed Marriage Equality Bill 2013 will enable couples who are not able to marry under the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961 to enter into marriage in the ACT.
"The government is determined to remove discrimination against same sex couples and their families,’" ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said when she announced the bill earlier this week.
"We are proud to be the jurisdiction that others look to as a leader in legislative reforms, particularly in the area of human rights and equality for all.
"This is a reform that a growing proportion of Australians want made. It is a matter of time," she added.
Since 2009, Australian same-sex couples who live together have the same rights as married couples. Opinion polls put support for gay marriage in Australia between 62 percent and 68 precent.Suggest a correction