ANNETTE Cairnduff and Kylie Gwynne had been married less than a day when the High Court cut short their marital bliss by striking down ACT same-sex marriage laws.
“We joked last week about having a 20-hour marriage – now it’s not so funny,” Ms Cairnduff told AAP of the decision to rule their marriage and those of about 30 other couples invalid.
All of them and others will now have to wait until the federal parliament legalises gay marriage.
The Australian Christian Lobby applauded the court’s ruling, saying it maintained the uniformity of marriage laws across the country.
“Marriage between a man and a woman is good for society and beneficial for governments to uphold in legislation,” managing director Lyle Shelton said in a statement.
“It’s about providing a future for the next generation where they can be raised by their biological parents, wherever possible.”
Mr Shelton was concerned for same-sex couples who thought they were married under the ACT legislation.
“Understandably they will be disappointed at the decision handed down today and it is unfortunate they were put in this position,” he said. Federal Liberal MP Alex Hawke said the court had made the correct decision.
“Good to see the High Court has made an absolutely correct interpretation of our Constitution,” he tweeted.
Gay marriage advocates were putting on a brave face, describing the ruling as just a “temporary defeat” and vowed to continue to fight for gay marriage.
“This is devastating for those couples who married this week and for their families,” Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said.
They welcomed the court’s finding that federal parliament had the power to legalise same-sex marriage.
The first test might be a private bill that Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young introduced to parliament just before the court delivered its ruling on Wednesday.
“Australia, as a nation, is ready for this and it’s time the federal parliament recognised that,” she said.
But Democratic Labor Party senator John Madigan says the people, not parliament, should decide the issue renewing his call for a plebiscite.
“I don’t believe 226 members of the parliament are in a position to make a decision about something with such far-reaching consequences,” he told reporters.
ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell urged the federal government to act following the “disappointing” decision.
“The prime minister should now allow a conscience vote on same-sex marriage in the federal parliament,” he said.
But Australian Greens leader Christine Milne took a swipe at the ACT government for not listening to the advice of constitutional law experts and safeguarding its legislation from a High Court challenge.
The Human Rights Law Centre said responsibility for advancing same-sex marriage was now squarely at the feet of the federal parliament.
Some elders from Australian Indigenous Christian Ministries said Aborigines had a strong culture of heterosexual marriage and that was “the Australian way”.
“Homosexuality was never accepted in our culture, the change came with the introduction of western culture,” indigenous elder Peter Walker said in a statement.
“Those who propose the redefinition of marriage should have the courage to put their proposal to a referendum so that all Australians, including indigenous Australians, are given a chance to make a choice and cast their vote on this important issue.” -AAP
Image: Stefan Postles (AAP)