Stop press: the High Court just effectively divorced 30-odd happy newlyweds — and broke the hearts of thousands more couples around Australia.

In a unanimous decision announced at 12pm AEST, the court held “the whole of the ACT Act is of no effect”:

“The Court held that the federal Parliament has power under the Australian Constitution to legislate with respect to same sex marriage, and that under the Constitution and federal law as it now stands, whether same sex marriage should be provided for by law is a matter for the federal Parliament.”

It is, in fact, the only constitutional decision the justices could have reached — the ACT legislation goes against the Commonwealth Marriage Act that states, explicitly, that marriage is between a man and a woman. On this, the feds rule.

So don’t blame the court. Blame the man who rewrote the laws, John Howard, to protect against this very move. And blame the man who now leads the Coalition, Tony Abbott, who refuses to give his members a say in changing the law — killing the issue stone dead until he does.

This fight can’t be won by well-meaning state and territory governments, or progressive members of the judiciary. That power rests with one man.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey