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Australia

First same-sex weddings held in Australian capital city

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Rob Griffith, AP
Gay couples, back row from left, Craig Berry, Ulyses Garcia, Narelle Majic, Ashleigh Watson, Dennis Littelow and Stephen Dawson, front row from left, Joel Player, Alan Right, Samantha Hermes, Hayley Wilson, Ivan Hinton, and Chris Teoh, pose for photos after they all took their wedding vows during ceremonies throughout Canberra, Australia, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.

CANBERRA, Australia — Gay and lesbian couples from around Australia joined in fragile marriages in Canberra on Saturday under the nation’s beleaguered same-sex union laws that face a challenge in the courts within a week.

The hastily-arranged ceremonies held under blue summer skies were bitter-sweet occasions for some couples who realize the High Court could annul their unions on Thursday.

Rob Griffith, AP
Ivan Hinton, right, gives his partner Chris Teoh a kiss after taking their wedding vows during a ceremony at Old Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.

Rob Griffith, AP
Same sex couple Stacey Cowan, right, and Corrina Peck celebrate after taking their wedding vows at Old Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.

Rob Griffith, AP
Western Australian politician Stephen Dawson, right, gives his husband Dennis Liddelow a kiss after they married in front of Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.

The federal government has challenged the validity of the Australian Capital Territory’s fledgling law that had made gay marriage legal in Canberra and its surrounds from Saturday.

Bills to change federal law to allow gay marriage were twice rejected by Parliament last year, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott was elected in September on a platform of opposing marriage equality.

Some marriage equality advocates feared that the High Court would block same-sex wedding from Tuesday when it heard the challenge. But no orders were made to impede weekend ceremonies.

If the law survives the High court challenge next week, the Federal Parliament could then overturn it with legislation that would ignite a divisive and bitter debate about human and state rights.

Rodney Croome, national director of the advocacy group Australian Marriage Equality, said 25 same-sex couples had reported planning to marry in Canberra this weekend, including his deputy director, Ivan Hinton.

The actual figure could be higher.

“This is the first time that we have been able to demonstrate that the sky will not cave in” due to gay couples marrying in Australia, a tearful Hinton said at his wedding to his Malaysian-born husband Chris Teoh.

Gays and lesbians who married on grassy spaces against the backdrops of Canberra’s many symbols of democracy on Saturday said they would be deeply disappointed if the laws failed at the first hurdle next week.

But several said their potentially short-lived unions would remain achievements toward marriage equality.

“Regardless of what happens on Thursday, we still get five days of legally being together,” said Stacey Cowan, as she posed for photographs outside Australia’s original Parliament House with her new wife, Corrina Peck.

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The couple traveled more than 400 kilometers (250 miles) from their coastal home town of Blue Haven for the occasion.

Canberra resident Hayley Wilson said she was glad she did not have to go back to her homeland, New Zealand, to legally marry her Australian wife Samantha Hermes.

“The ball’s definitely rolling now and hopefully it builds momentum whatever happens next week,” Hermes said.

The Australian Christian Lobby, a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, warned that the public debate should focus on the plight of children in same-sex relationships.

The group’s spokesman Lyle Shelton said same-sex marriage equated to children being removed from a biological parent.

“We hear about equal love all the time but we don’t hear about what it means for children,” Shelton told Sky News television.

Gay marriage has legal recognition in 18 countries as well as 16 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia.

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37 more reader comments:

  1. Mazal tov! (Congrats!) to the couples in Canberra!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 12:40am
  2. Like, Like, Like!!!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 12:40am
  3. Good for all my Aussie friends

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 12:41am
  4. Cuando sera q encuentre una mujer q me ame y casarme

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 12:43am
  5. congradulations hugs xoxoxoxxo and totally awesome :-):-)

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 12:45am
  6. congrats to all

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 12:45am
  7. Congrats! may this be the start of Nationwide Equality!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 12:46am
  8. Way to go Australia. Congrats to all from Canada

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 12:46am
  9. Congrats Australians!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 12:47am
  10. high 5′s all

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 12:54am
  11. Yay!.. Was Guna say… Re marriage equality; where the hell are ya? :-)

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 1:07am
  12. Look at how happy they are. It’s the first thing that strikes you. The joy. How can some people want to deny that to others?

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 1:08am
  13. Beautiful Couples!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 1:11am
  14. Nicki Moine

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 1:23am
  15. i like tgirls and i like women but i like tgirls more.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 1:31am
  16. Congrats to all of you,.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 1:38am
  17. congratulation for all the newly couples….how i wish i can have the one woman who can truly love me and have a wedding like this.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 1:42am
  18. Congrats. Awesome

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 1:44am
  19. MAZEL TOV!!!!! XXOO

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 1:46am
  20. Congratulations!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 2:20am
  21. Hurray ACT! Happiness to the newly married.

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 2:35am
  22. So happy for all of you!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 2:58am
  23. Jennie Cherrier

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 3:24am
  24. Congratulations. You are all true heros

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 3:30am
  25. Congratulations-Félicitations Lesbiennes Lesbians FLAG Canada Helene Bedard Lgbt Gblt Founder-Fondatrice FLAG Canada :)

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 4:41am
  26. What don’t these guys realise? Love is love – The Australian Govt should stop being “American” and let people who love one another marry no matter what stupid reasons small minded people have!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:36am
  27. Bravo Canberra!!!!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 7:22am
  28. CONGRATULATIONS BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE <3

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 7:35am
  29. Congrats!!! Guys

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 12:26pm
  30. Awww…hope I could find a lovely girlfriend too

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 12:35pm
  31. Awesome !!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 2:25pm
  32. congratulatons

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 5:10pm
  33. They look great!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 7:00pm
  34. Congrats!!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 7:04pm
  35. fantastic………

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 7:58pm
  36. wow!

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 9:21pm
  37. <3

    Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 9:26pm