The Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove has signed off on the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 — the last step to making same-sex marriage legal in Australia. These changes come into effect on Saturday, December 9, with the first weddings able to take place from January 9.
The legal definition of marriage in the Marriage Act 1961 has been changed from being a “union of a man and a woman” to a “union of two people”. Previously civil celebrants would have to note that: “Marriage, according to the law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”
This will be changed to reflect the change in definition to “union of two people”. The legal words that couples say at their wedding ceremony may also change.
Currently, civil celebrants must say: “I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, (insert name here), take thee, (insert their name here), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband)”. But couples will now be able to say “spouse” instead of “husband” or “wife” if they want.
SOME COUPLES WILL BE INSTANTLY MARRIED
Couples who married overseas will have their unions recognised under Australian law. This also makes it easier for them to divorce. All future foreign same-sex marriages will also be recognised in Australia.