And you thought Pope Francis being named Person of the Year was a surprise? Or the phony sign language guy at Nelson Mandela’s funeral? How about this news?
SYDNEY – Australia’s highest court struck down a landmark law on Thursday that had begun allowing the country’s first gay marriages, shattering the dreams of more than two dozen same-sex newlyweds whose marriages will now be annulled less than a week after their weddings.
The federal government had challenged the validity of the Australian Capital Territory’s law that had allowed gay marriages in the nation’s capital and its surrounding area starting last Saturday.
The federal government’s lawyer had argued that having different marriage laws in various Australian states and territories would create confusion. The ACT, which passed the law in October, said it should stand because it governs couples outside the federal definition of marriage as being between members of the opposite sex.
The High Court unanimously ruled that the ACT’s law could not operate concurrently with the federal Marriage Act, which was amended in 2004 to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
“The Marriage Act does not now provide for the formation or recognition of marriage between same sex couples. The Marriage Act provides that a marriage can be solemnised in Australia only between a man and a woman,” the court said in a statement issued alongside its ruling. “That Act is a comprehensive and exhaustive statement of the law of marriage.”
Folks had jumped the gun before the court’s decision, see? What’s the Prime Minister’s take on this development?
Gay couples who wed in Canberra on the weekend knew they ran the risk that their marriages would be knocked down by the High Court, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says.
The Prime Minister reiterated his opposition to legalising same-sex marriage in Australia and would not commit to a conscience vote for his MPs and senators if a bill came before the federal parliament.
What’s it all mean?
The case is not what it seems at first. It is in fact a major step forward for marriage equality in Australia.
I reckon the news that eclipsed this was the decision in India to re-criminalize homosexual acts. Here’s what Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai, had to say about that.
“the Catholic Church has never been opposed to the decriminalisation of homosexuality, because we have never considered gay people criminals.”
“As Christians, we express our full respect for homosexuals. The Catholic Church is opposed to the legalisation of gay marriage, but teaches that homosexuals have the same dignity of every human being and condemns all forms of unjust discrimination, harassment or abuse,”
Indeed, we do. Interesting times.