Less than a week after Australia elected Prime Minister Tony Abbott – leaving little doubt that a federal gay marriage law will not be approved in the next three years – Katy Gallagher, chief minister of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), has announced that her government would “bring forward legislation that delivers equality for same-sex couples, legislation that promises them the right to marry.”

(Related: Gay marriage hopes dashed as conservatives return to power in Australia.)

The ACT's largest city, Canberra, serves as the nation's capital. Laws approved in Australia's smallest self-governing internal territory, which in 1994 became the first jurisdiction to legally acknowledge gay and lesbian couples, can be overridden by the federal government.

In 2006, the federal government intervened to repeal a civil unions law approved by ACT lawmakers.

“It is a matter of time,” Gallagher is quoted as saying by daily The Australian. “We would prefer to see the federal parliament legislate for a nationally consistent scheme, but in the absence of this we will act for the people of the ACT. The Marriage Equality Bill 2013 will enable couples who are not able to marry under the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961 to enter into marriage in the ACT. It will provide solemnization, eligibility, dissolution and annulment, regulatory requirements and notice of intention in relation to same-sex marriages.”

“With this legislation, we will state loud and clear that all people have equal rights in our society and are treated equally by our laws,” she added.

New South Wales (NSW) is also debating legalizing gay nuptials.