Australia Somehow Finds a Way to Make Marriage Equality Even More Complicated

If you think the labyrinth of state laws and federal rulings around marriage equality is bad in the US, get a load of what’s happening right now in Australia.

One tiny little sliver of the country just legalized marriage equality, which is great — except that the federal government isn’t pleased, and has challenged the new law in court.

Here’s where it gets weird, though: normally in a situation like this, the federal government would ask the court for an injunction to prevent marriages from starting while the challenge works its way through the legal system. But they didn’t. So marriage started this weekend in the ACT. Mazel tov.

Will it last? We’ll find out on Thursday, when the court is scheduled to rule. We’ll also (hopefully) learn whether the 47 couples planning to marry will be allowed to stay married, or whether they’ll have to have their marriages dissolved.

The United States, for its part, is keeping things complicated too. The legal landscape here is pocked with questions and ambiguity ever since the Supreme Court ruled on DOMA, and we haven’t had any major court rulings since then. By now, courts in several states are nearly ready to issue decisions on a variety of marriage cases, which means the first post-DOMA ruling could come from Utah or Pennsylvania or New Mexico or someplace else. Where will it be? Place your bets now.