Christian lobby vows to block same-sex marriage efforts in Australian capital


CANBERRA, Australia — The Australian Christian Lobby, a powerful anti-gay political faction, announced this week that it will exert pressure on Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott, to override the Australian Capital Territory’s proposed marriage equality law by passing a bill in the federal parliament to block the effort.

Australian-Capital-TerritoryAustralian Christian Lobby executive director Lyle Shelton said that the federal government should override state and territory’s laws.

“Yes, I think the parliament should override this,” Shelton said. “It’s in the parliament’s interest to protect the constitution, the constitutional power for marriage … it is a constitutional nonsense for a territory to be seeking to legislate in this area.”

The Capital Territory’s governing official, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, said this week that her government would once again introduce legislation to legalize same-sex marriage.

This latest effort in Australia comes on the heels of a major defeat that saw former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, an outspoken ally for same-sex marriage, voted out of office earlier this month.

Political pundits forecast that any efforts at a federal level for same-sex marriage in 2014 will likely fail, although there is a movement in the lower house to have Rudd — who returns to Parliament as an MP — back a measure.

Abbott has consistently opposed allowing a conscience vote by his party, and has himself opposed same-sex marriage.

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Australian Marriage Equality executive director Rodney Croome said he wanted the federal government to respect the spirit of the Constitution and allow any constitutional questions raised by the Territory marriage equality law to be resolved by Australia’s independent umpire, the High Court.

“If Mr. Abbott expects people to respect his mandate, he must in turn respect the mandate of the recently elected ACT government to provide full equality and dignity for all their citizens,” Croome said.

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