Same-Sex Couples Marry in Midnight Wedding Ceremonies Across Australia

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Same-sex couples married in midnight ceremonies across Australia on Tuesday after the country’s last legal impediment to gay marriage expired.  Marriage equality became law on Dec. 9 with overwhelming support in Parliament, but Australia’s requirement that all couples give a month’s notice for weddings made Tuesday the first possible date for gay marriages.

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Athletes Craig Burns and Luke Sullivan married at a midnight ceremony near the east coast city of Tweed Heads.

 

“It’s another way to show your love and appreciation of your partner in front of the people in your life,” said Burns, a 29-year-old sprinter who will compete in the Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast in April.

 

In Newcastle, north of Sydney, Rebecca Hickson, 32, married her partner of nine years, Sarah Turnbull, 34.

 

Hickson described the divisive build-up to a gay marriage ballot preceding Parliament’s vote as “a horrible time.” She said the couple wanted to be part of history by becoming one of the first lesbian couples to marry in Australia.

 

In the west coast city of Perth, Kelly and Sam Pilgrim-Byrne solemnized their 24-year-old relationship in a midnight ceremony on the steps of the Western Australia state legislature.

 

“It was never anything we considered because it was never anything that was available to us, so we never had those dreams about what would our wedding look like, what would we do, who would we invite, where would it be — we never, ever considered it because we never thought that it would happen in our life time,” Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

 

Lainey Carmichael, 51, and Roz Kitschke, 46, married shortly after dawn before 65 guests at their home in the town of Franklin in the island state of Tasmania.

 

The early ceremony was mainly to avoid the summer heat, Kitschke said. “New day, new era — and we don’t like the heat that much,” she said.

 

Wedding guest Rodney Croome, a longtime marriage equality advocate and spokesperson for Tasmanians United for Marriage Equality, said, “This morning’s wedding marked the start of a new chapter in the lives of the two brides but also a new chapter in the life of the nation.”

 

He added, “Today we are a more equal and inclusive country that treats all loving, committed couples the same.”

 

The Australian Parliament overwhelming voted for same-sex marriage after a nationwide postal survey found that 62 percent of respondents wanted marriage equality.

 

The one-month waiting period was waived for some couples who wed in recent weeks. Those exceptional circumstances included a partner’s terminal illness and overseas-based relatives booking flights to Australia before the official start date for the new law was known.

 

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: AP
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