On 12 December 2013, the High Court released its decision on the Commonwealth's challenge to the ACT's Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013.
Unfortunately for the 30 or so same-sex couples who had married in the days prior to this decision and for the vast number of Australians supporting this Act, the High Court found that the ACT Act had no effect. This means that all of the recent same-sex marriages are deemed invalid.
The High Court judges unanimously came to the decision that the ACT's proposed Act could not operate alongside the federal Marriage Act 1961 as this specifically defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
However, the High Court stated that the federal Parliament does have power under the Australian Constitution to legislate on same-sex marriage. This is because the marriage power under the Constitution includes a marriage between persons of the same sex. In short, the High Court held that it is not for the courts to make or change this law but for our democratically elected federal Parliament.
Regardless of the outcome of the decision, it has definitely raised both public and political awareness for marriage equality. In the last week or so, a federal Cross Party Working Group for Marriage Equality has been formed, a Western Australian MP has introduced a private members Same Sex Marriage Bill into WA parliament and there is increased pressure on the federal Government to allow a conscience vote on this issue.
So whilst the High Court's decision may have initially seemed like a rejection of same-sex marriage, many are viewing this as a minor hurdle to achieving marriage equality.