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Civil Unions Proposed in Oz

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The Australian Capital Territory, a self-governing internal territory of Australia, is seeking to pass legislation legalizing same-sex civil unions, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The ACT Labor Party voted unanimously to support the Civil Partnerships Amendment Bill in a caucus meeting on Monday. The bill, which would extend government-recognized civil unions to same-sex couples, is expected to pass in ACT's legislative assembly.

Gay couples in the ACT can currently register as domestic partners, but same-sex civil unions are not yet legal anywhere in the country.

While the ACT Labor Party supports the bill, the federal Australian Labor Party deems the legislation a threat to the institution of marriage.

"The government does not support any legislation that undermines existing laws that define marriage as being between a man and a woman," said a spokesman for federal attorney general Robert McClelland of the bill, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Previous attempts by the ACT to legalize civil unions were vetoed in 2008 and 2006 by the Australian federal government. The federal government can veto any ACT law because of its status as a territory and not a state.
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