I married the love of my life on Sunday 25th March 2018. Because Australia vote YES for marriage equality.

As a couple who were in their 18th year together, you might wonder why bother with marriage? Our union is strong. Our love is enduring. Our life together doesn’t need the stamp of marriage. We don’t need a piece of paper to prove anything. We didn’t particularly care about marriage equality.

The truth is that until approximately 6pm on the 7th December 2017, our partnership was without value, effect, consequence, or significance. The validity, legitimacy and legal status of our strong, enduring love and life together was null and void. That piece of paper was not an option for us. Because we are a same-sex couple. because Australia did not have legislated marriage equality.

Until 10am on 15th November when the results of the Australian Marriage Equality postal vote were announced. Then at 6pm on the 7th December 2017, when the Australian parliament legislated for marriage equality, my partner and I, in our 18th year together,  were denied the same human and legal rights as opposite sex couples.

You decided if my partner and I could be equal.

If you are Australian, of voting age, you were asked to decide if our relationship, our love, our commitment was equal.  You were asked to do this because our parliamentary leaders, with some notable exceptions, lacked the guts and decency to do their job, their elected mandate, which is to legislate for the good of this country and its citizens. ALL citizens.

All voting aged Australians were sent a slip of paper with a question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” The government was at pains to point out that it was a voluntary survey, anonymous and would help guide the legislators in their decision-making. About me. About us. About whether we should be considered equal.

Australia, what a joke

I recall watching late night American TV where one comedian was apoplectic and incredulous about what ‘those folks down under’ were up to on same-sex marriage. 

Many of us here in Australia were apoplectic too. And embarrassed. Many other emotions ensued. The marriage equality debate was simply awful. It provided a platform for open and loud homophobic slurs, bigotry and hatred. As a gay woman, I was hurt, angry, scared and embarrassed but never, ever cowed. But I wondered if I was worthy enough, because when enough mud gets flung at you, some sticks to you.

Pessimism be thy name

I didn’t dare to hope that 2017 was finally going to be the year that we would be considered equal. Considered worthy. Considered to be enough. After all, why hope for something that you’d grown up believing couldn’t happen. But those amazing, rock solid, tenacious, resilient people who’ve dedicated their lives to fighting for us and our relationship to be considered equal never gave up hope. They campaigned, they advocated, they agitated right up to the end. Thank you to the hundreds of activists, advocates and campaigners, which for so many of you has been a life long mission.

Fortunately, the efforts of these extraordinary Australians weren’t in vain,  because 79 percent of Australians voted and 61 percent of Australians agreed that we should be equal. Resoundingly, overwhelmingly, joyously agreed and they said “YES” to us and more than 31,000 other Australian same-sex couples being able to marry the person they loved and chose to spend the rest of their life with.

When history was made

So on Sunday 25th March at 11:10am…..

  • 17 years after falling in love;
  • 129 days after the YES vote announcement on November 15th;
  • 107 days after the Australian parliament legislated for marriage equality on December 7th and,
  • 102 days after the love of my life asked me to marry her on December 12th;

We took each other to be each other’s lawful wife.

We promised to continue to love each other, respect each other, laugh with each other, cry with each other, honour each other and protect each other forsaking all others for as long as we both shall live.

Because now we could. Because now we are equal. Because now we are included. Because now we belong. And yes, now we are married.Because Australia finally has marriage equality.

Michelle Redfern Marriage Equality

Update in 2019: 2 years ago Australia voted YES for marriage equality. But…. the fight for equality is not over. The LGBTIQ+ community is still marginalised, bullied, discriminated against and has higher than average under employment rates, higher than average rates of poor mental health and higher than average rates of serious assault and death.

What can you do? Educate yourself, be compassionate, show empathy and understand that even one act of kindness can make a difference. Contact me if you want to know more.

About Michelle Redfern

                              

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