Here’s What You Need To Know About Marriage Suddenly Being Legalized This Weekend In Australia

Here's an Australian swim team, for no reason really. They're just nice to look at.
Here’s an Australian swim team, for no reason really. They’re just nice to look at.

Okay, something weird just happened with marriage in Australia, and like everything involving foreign countries, it is super-confusing. Here’s what you need to know.

The Australian Capitol Territory is a tiny little chunk of the country, big enough to encompass just one city and a little bit of nature preserve. It’s allowed to govern itself almost like it’s one of the bigger states, but the federal government still has certain authority over it.

Last month the ACT passed a marriage equality bill, much to the federal government’s annoyance. They filed suit against the ACT, claiming that having equality in one territory but not the others would be confusing. (Uh, okay, yes, that is true. There is another solution to that problem, of course, which would be full federal equality. Oh well.)

Back in 2004, the country passed a law concerning marriage as it relates to straight couples, and everyone figured that that meant marriage equality was off the table. But the ACT figured out a clever little loophole: their argument is that the federal law only defines marriageĀ for straight people, notĀ as straight people. In other words, it defines the parameters for heterosexual relationship recognition but doesn’t restrict any kind of legislation concerning relationship recognition for LGBTs.

Yeah. Confusing.

So why is marriage happening this weekend all of a sudden? Because the federal government filed suit; a court heard arguments last week; and they won’t issue a ruling until next week. So in the mean time, ACT couples are free to marry starting this Saturday.

But hold on: you can’t just wander on down to the courthouse for a license. You had to have given a month’s notice, back in October or November, that you plan to marry. So far, about 40 couples have done so.

So there you have it: we’ll have 40 (or so) weddings in the next few days in Australia. Then the court will issue a decision, at which point nobody really knows what will happen. Maybe marriage will be legalized for everyone! Or maybe the law will be overturned. The married couples might be allowed to keep their marriages, or they might be dissolved. This is uncharted territory, much like most of Australia. (Lol j/k kangaroos.)

Click here for a sexy photo gallery of the Australian men’s olympic swim team. You’ve earned it.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #australia #marriage stories and more


  • ZaneStuart

    Congratulations ACT. BTW, that’s not a swim team. It’s rugby players and that’s one of the Burgess brothers in the foreground.

  • jimbryant

    The marriages will be invalidated a few days later by the High Court, unfortunately. There is little enthusiasm for gay marriage in Australia. Even the gay activists in Australia aren’t very enthusiastic about it.

    Gay activists in Australia tend to be feminized and not very forthright in their activism. A night at a dance party is what they prefer.

  • Zoe Brain

    The ACT’s a little bigger than depicted. 2,358 sq km, as opposed to 2,586 for Luxembourg and 3,140 for Rhode Island. Or 177 for the District of Columbia.

    It has a population of about 350,000, mostly in Canberra, the city.

    It has a political status similar to Washington DC.

    Apart from that, the article’s pretty accurate. Canberra’s the only Australian city where you genuinely do see the occasional roo or wallaby on suburban streets or front lawns.×588.jpg

  • Camsean01

    Australia is not legalizing gay marriage. One tiny territory may be if the high court agrees.

  • newecreator

    LOL on the caption for the photo!

  • WesternAus

    I think that the law in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has been overturned, because of their wording of the legislation. South Australia is likely to legalise marriage using different wording in their legislation so we will have to wait and see what happens.

    The only reason why the state of things about marriage is the way it is, is because that nasty little hitler John Howard added to the marriage act that marriage was between a man and a woman forever. The problem is that hets can still divorce so the addition to the marriage act is basically a nonsense but that Silly little twit, Howard, is homophobic and bigotted just like the current Tony Abbott.

Comments are closed.