Prime Minister John Howard's Cabinet announced Tuesday it would use its power over territories to quash the new law in August. Howard's conservative government amended federal marriage laws in 2004 to ensure that only men and women can marry and to head off possible legal challenges from gays and lesbians.
While declining to detail the reasoning behind the federal government's move to cancel the ACT law, Ruddock told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio Wednesday that it could be salvaged if the territory dropped some of the ceremonial trappings and rights the new law guarantees to gay and lesbian couples, the AP reports.
"If you look at the way in which it's been organized, with civil celebrants and a form of ceremony, essentially what they want to do is characterize it as marriage when in fact it's not," Ruddock said.
ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell branded the federal stance homophobic and discriminatory.