Today is a very significant anniversary of a very personal, yet political act. Come with me, I’d like to share it with you…
After 4 months of whirlwind preparation, 1 April 2010 dawned bright and clear…a gorgeous autumn day and the beginning of the Easter weekend…it was the day of our Civil Partnership Ceremony, though we loudly and proudly called it a wedding – and a wedding it was for sure!
We were two brides – who were “given away” and “walked down the aisle” by our Mums; there was a bevy of brides’ babes including a best woman and a best bride dude; and a beautiful throng of family and friends who witnessed a very personal; and very special ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery here in Canberra. Our celebrant was Judy Aulich, one of the first registered Civil Partnership Notaries in the ACT. We even had our photos taken with Labor MLAs Andrew Barr (now Chief Minister) and Simon Corbell – one of which was published in the Canberra Times (who’d have thought we’d be Page 3 girls!) Our ceremony was intimate, our vows to each other were emotional and heartfelt and I’m told there “wasn’t a dry eye in the house!” We had flowers, and a string quartet, and champagne and a sit down dinner. There were messages from some who couldn’t make it; and a bag-pipe playing uncle in the UK sent us a video because he promised he’d pipe at our wedding. We had a band and dancing, there were speeches and songs, some tears, and much laughter. It was a big bash; a very big, important deal.
Why did we do it? A myriad of reasons. Because we could. Because we live in the ACT where our relationship could be legally recognised and celebrated. And mostly because we love each other and we wanted to celebrate that love with people who in turn loved us and cared about us. And maybe because we are both Leos. And also because, well…“the personal is political”.
Perhaps not many couples would think that having a wedding or getting married is a political act – it is a tradition of human society after all, a contract that men and women have been entering into for many centuries; it’s been a heterosexual rite of passage for a very long time. For us, having our partnership legally recognised is both a personal and political act – we have brought our personal lives, as a same-sex couple, into the political arena.
In the ACT, prior to November 2009 we could not have a ceremony, led by a duly registered celebrant, which legally recognised our partnership. That we were being prevented from marrying saddened us immensely. Over the years we have witnessed straight friends marry and we were, and are, very happy for them. However, there was also sorrow (and if we are honest, envy, as well) that we couldn’t celebrate in the ways that they could, and we felt sad (I usually cried) when the celebrants at friends’ weddings would announce: “marriage in this country is between a man and a woman”. So, we were overjoyed when in late 2009, the ACT Government, with a strong push from the ACT Greens, (and no support from the Federal Labor government) were finally able to enact legislation that enabled same-sex couples to legally celebrate their unions. And then we made our announcement to our families, and the planning for our wedding began!
So we, the brides, wore purple and black. We looked fabulous! Our gorgeous brides’ babes wore sexy, flirty 50’s- inspired black matte taffeta halter necked swing dresses, and the brides’ dude was handsome in an immaculate black suit and shirt with a purple tie and pocket handkerchief. The youngest member of our bridal party, our little “ring-bringer”,(who incidentally has two mums), wore purple sequins on her white and pink dress. Our guests included our Mothers; friends and family from all over the globe: Israel, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Wagga-Wagga, the North and Central coasts, Ballarat, and London! And of course all our loved ones from our fair city as well. We are thankful to them all for helping to make our special day such a wonderful and significant occasion.
There’s still a way to go in Australia before all relationships are considered politically, legally and socially equal. My partner and I can’t yet say we are “married” (though we do!)
As I said in my speech at the wedding:
“Just as once our society didn’t consider Indigenous Australians citizens of their own countries, and inter-racial marriage was frowned on, we believe that the discrimination that still prevents same sex couples from being married will one day no longer exist and we will be able to say to our grand-children: “would you believe that your grandmother and I weren’t even allowed to get married in the early 21st century!!??”
Happy anniversary to us!