Heterosexual couples will be the first to experience the impact of the changes with celebrants required to meet new legal requirements starting on Saturday.
Here’s what we can expect from the new laws passed this week.
FIRST, THE FORMALITIES
Today Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove signed off on the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 — the last step to making same-sex marriage legal in Australia.
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”.
Many other changes will be made to other acts such as the Sex Discrimination Act, Family Law Act, Migration Act and Australian Defence Force Cover Act, in order to remain consistent with this definition, but this is the major change.
The changes will come into effect on Saturday, December 9, with the first weddings able to take place from January 9.
WHAT IS SAID AT WEDDINGS WILL CHANGE
Previously civil celebrants would have to note that: “Marriage, according to 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.