The federal government challenged the validity of the Australian Capital Territory’s (ACT) law that had allowed gay marriages in the nation’s capital and its surrounding area from last Saturday. It means at least 27 weddings have been deemed invalid. For Ivan Hinton, who married his partner Chris Teoh on Saturday, the decision was heartbreaking. The couple only received their marriage certificate on Wednesday and immediately applied to change their surnames to Hinton-Teoh.
Hinton said he doesn’t regret going through with the wedding and will always consider Teoh his husband. He said: “This was an unprecedented and historic opportunity. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. The federal government’s lawyer 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.
Alan Wright, who married his partner Joel Player just minutes after midnight on Saturday said the court’s decision had inspired him to fight even harder for equality and focus his efforts on getting the federal government to change the law. “I am now immensely proud to be part of a very unique, committed and courageous group of people, who despite probably deep down knowing that it was going to be overturned... still stood up and said ‘no, we’re going to do this’,” Wright said. Gay marriage has legal recognition in 18 countries as well as 16 US states plus the District of Columbia.