Race To Stop Happy Wedding Snaps


The High Court, Canberra: Wilson Afonso

The federal government has lost no time in saddling up and sending out the legal posse to hunt down and kill the ACTs same-sex marriage law.

The law was passed on Tuesday, objected to on Wednesday, and will come before the High Court for a directions hearing on Friday. Decision could come in as little as a month.

The government’s excuse for this screaming panic is that it wants the law struck down before any marriages can happen. It says it’s concerned that same sex couples might be hurt if they marry, and then later have their marriages nullified.

Well pardon my cynicism, but if they were that worried about our tender feelings they wouldn’t be lawyering up with such unseemly haste, if at all. No, in all probability they are more worried about the impact on the feelings of the general public, and their own pro-marriage MPs, of a major PR disaster spinning out of control.

Imagine all those happy smiling wedding photos and videos proliferating across social and mainstream media. Imagine the court case, with all those couples on TV and radio, perhaps even in the court itself, telling reporters that yes, they know the government is against their happiness, but they don’t care. They’ll take their chances.

Who knows – the court might decide (as they did in California), only to prevent any future marriages. There is a case to be made that marriages made while such marriages were legal should be allowed to stand.

Alternatively, if the court decided to be hard-hearted, imagine all the photos and videos of angry sobbing suddenly de-married couples proliferating around the world. How many opponents hard hearts might be softened? Agitators for a conscience vote would be angry and emboldened.

Either way, the government would have won the battle, but lost significant ground in the war.

In my view, the government will most likely prevail, for now. The more interesting question then becomes, what will New South Wales do? As the High Court sits on Friday, the NSW upper house will begin debating their same-sex marriage bill.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)