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Australia High Court Overturns Law Allowing Gay Marriage

Couples embrace in front of the media outside the High Court of Australia, in Canberra, Dec. 12, 2013.
Australia's highest court has struck down a law allowing gay marriage just five days after it took effect, invalidating the wedding ceremonies of over two dozen couples.

The High Court ruled Thursday that the Australian Capital Territory's law was invalid, saying same-sex marriage was a matter for lawmakers to decide at the federal level.

Nearly 30 couples had married since the law went into force last Saturday. Some of those couples gathered outside the court to show their disapproval of the decision.

The law was challenged by Australia's conservative government, which argued that having different laws for different territories was confusing.

Laws legalizing same-sex marriage failed to pass parliament in September 2010. Current federal law explicitly defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Gay marriage advocates on Thursday expressed disappointment, but said they will continue pushing for same-sex marriage legalization.