Thursday, June 08, 2006

ACT Gay unions could be fortnight away

GAY couples will be able to say "I do" in Canberra within two weeks, after the ACT yesterday fast-tracked its civil union laws in defiance of the Commonwealth's decision to scuttle them. [That is unless Ruddock and Howard try to intervene] ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the Government would reduce the notification period for people wishing to enter into civil unions, to enable ceremonies to begin within a fortnight.

The new laws — which would entitle same-sex couples to the same rights as married couples under ACT law, such as rights to property in the event of a relationship break-up and power of attorney — were intended to come into effect on August 1. However Mr Corbell last night said the commencement date would be brought forward after Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said he would ask the Governor-General to disallow the laws on August 1, to "defend the fundamental institution of marriage".

"This may be in defiance of the Federal Government's announcement but we believe our law is valid and that it does not impinge on any Commonwealth legislation," Mr Corbell said. He said the Federal Government's decision was "unacceptable and undemocratic" and it was important ordinary Canberrans be given the opportunity as soon as possible to be part of a civil union.

"This step will allow Canberrans in same-sex relationships to enter into a civil union and to show the Howard Government their support for the legislation," Mr Corbell said.

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