Australian High Court Overturns Capital Territory Marriage Equality, Nullifying Two Dozen Marriages

CREDIT: Alex Ellinghausen/Australian Marriage Equality

Newlyweds Ashleigh Watson and Narell Majic mourn the invalidation of their marriage.

Thursday afternoon, the Australian High Court issued a ruling overturning the marriage equality law passed by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), a federally run city similar to the U.S.’s District of Columbia. That law had taken effect over the weekend, and some 27 same-sex couples had married, but their marriages have now been nullified.

Unlike in the United States, marriage in Australia has been defined at the federal level, and the High Court’s ruling spoke to the constitutionality of the ACT’s act, not its merits. Because a federal law limits marriage to one man and one woman, the ACT law cannot simultaneously define marriage in a different way; thus, it’s unconstitutional.

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher stood by her administration’s decision to pursue marriage equality, but passed the baton to federal lawmakers, saying that marriage equality is now “firmly at the feet” of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the members of Parliament: “This is not a campaign he can avoid.”

The Advocate has compiled images of some of the couples who married this week whose marriages are no longer valid. The Australian Marriage Equality campaign hopefully asserted that the ACT’s law “facilitated the first same-sex marriage on Australian soil and showed the nation the love and commitment of same-sex couples.”

The couples seen marrying in this video are now considered legally single again: