This article was published by The Age on 22 October, 2013.
It also appeared in print (click here to view this and other Fairfax print articles).
Same-sex couple Julia Loughlin, 26, and Tegan Davies, 28, are praising the ACT government for taking ''a big step in the right direction'' for marriage equality to be recognised throughout Australia.
Ms Loughlin and Ms Davies, who have been together for six years, held a civil ceremony earlier this year. Despite not being recognised by Victorian or Australian governments, they were reluctant to follow other same-sex couples overseas to exchange vows.
''We chose this option instead of going somewhere overseas where gay marriage is legally recognised, because we felt that the presence of our supportive friends and family mattered more than a piece of paper that would become meaningless upon our return home,'' Ms Loughlin said.
For this couple, and many other same-sex couples throughout Australia, the Marriage Equality (Same-Sex) Bill 2013 is a symbolic victory that signifies change.
Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome predicts other governments will take the Gallagher government's lead. ''It's quite possible we'll see a domino effect. The development in the ACT will only put pressure on the other states. For some time now, I've thought it was inevitable that same-sex couples would be able to marry somewhere in Australia by the end of 2013.''
Mr Croome says there has been strong support in the Australian Marriage Equality network for Canberra weddings. ''About 500 couples have indicated to us that they intend to travel to the ACT to marry. We expect couples from interstate who marry in the ACT will become strong advocates for reform when they return home and find their marriages aren't recognised.''
However, Mr Croome says many couples, like Ms Loughlin and Ms Davies, are choosing to wait for marriage laws to be changed in their own states or federally.
Ali Hogg, convener of the marriage equality campaign group Equal Love, hopes the ACT's reforms will help achieve this.
''It puts a bit more pressure on the state governments. And we'll do that in the bigger picture through the [Equal Love] campaign; it gives the campaign a shot in the arm,'' she said. ''We'll be satisfied when our relationship is recognised not just by our supportive friends and family, but by the Commonwealth law as well.''