Showdown in Australia Over Marriage Equality

11.4.2013

By Neal Broverman

The Capital Territory will have legal unions next month, but the federal government may shut them down soon after.

Australia's Capital Territory is set to allow same-sex marriages in early December, but the federal government is rushing in to put an end to them.

The district, which includes the city of Canberra (pictured), passed legislation last month that legalized same-sex unions. But Australia has a federal Marriage Act that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The federal government is now challenging the Capital Territory's marriage equality bill in High Court; a decision is expected within days of the CT marriages going into effect. Canberra is already experiencing an upswing in hotel bookings and requests for florists, even with the federal government swooping in.

Other districts of Australia — including New South Wales and Tasmania — are also moving toward legalization. Similar to America, these districts are pitting local municipalities against the federal government. The nation's prime minister, Tony Abbott, has declared himself a "traditionalist" against marriage equality, even though he has a lesbian sister who is an outspoken LGBT rights advocate.

The drama over marriage equality in Australia is somewhat surprising considering it's a Western nation and that 64 percent of the population is in support of legal same-sex unions, according to a recent poll. Read more here.

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