Australian gov't thwarts local gay marriage law

Conservative Prime Minister John Howard's government has for the second time invoked special powers to invalidate a territory's law that had been the first in Australia giving legal recognition to same-sex relationships. The Australian Capital Territory, which includes the national capital Canberra, has twice drafted laws that would make it the first of Australia's six states and two territories to legally recognize gay and lesbian relationships. Attorney General Philip Ruddock overrode the original laws in June last year and announced late Tuesday that the territory's revised laws, which have yet to be passed by the ACT Parliament, would also be vetoed by his government. The new laws would establish a domestic relationship - separate from marriage - under which same-sex couples would be given the same rights as heterosexual partnerships.