First Australian same-sex couple ‘wed’ in legally binding ceremony
A lesbian couple has become Australia’s first same-sex pair to legally bind themselves together – despite same-sex marriage still being illegal in the country.
Carly Naughton, 31, and Alee Fogarty, 28, exchanged vows under the auspices of the Evermore Pledge, an agreement which gives couples all the legal privileges of a traditional marriage.
This includes everything from power of attorney to next of kin, meaning that Carly and Alee can plan each other’s funerals and accompany each other in hospital.
The two women, who have one child and another on the way pledged to stay with each other forever in front of their friends and family on the Gold Coast on Saturday, in the east of the country.
The event was stunning, but Carly, who writes a blog about parenting, IVF and her attempts to conceive, said that for her and Alee, said the ceremony had not been important to them at first.
“Initially, we were obviously more concerned with the legal side of things,” she told PinkNews.
“We didn’t do this so we could have our ‘special day’ as such and it was so rushed (it all was planned in three weeks!) that when it finally came to the day we were so anxious and a bit worried about how it would all go.
“Of course, I have always wanted my big day, but it really wasn’t the priority here.”
That all changed on Saturday, she said.
“The day came, and having my mum help me get my gown on and seeing her cry was a moment I won’t ever forget.
“The second we arrived at (the venue) Peppers Soul, the reality dawned on us and we became that soppy couple.
“It was perfect. Every little detail was so beautiful.”
The pregnant blogger, whose other child Oakland is nearly two years old, recalled: “We walked out as a family and saw all our loved ones staring back at us cheering and crying.
“It was incredibly small and intimate.”
And she said it suddenly dawned on her that what she and Alee were doing was bigger than them.
“That was the moment I realised how important it was.
“Not just to us, but to our friends and family who thought they might not ever be part of something like this for us.
“It was important to a lot of our LGBTQIA friends too, because this is something to give them hope as well.
“It’s not marriage equality, but maybe it will gain enough momentum to raise awareness and bring about a much-needed change in this country!”
Carly said that the most important part of the ceremony was that it had a huge impact on her and Alee’s lives together.
“We really wanted to ensure that we secure our futures – not only for us, but our children.
“We’ve always been terrified of what would happen to the other should one of us become incapacitated or pass away.
“We’ve heard horror stories of long-term partners being turned away at hospitals as they weren’t considered ‘immediate family,’ or of people dying, then their family shunning and banning the partner at the funeral because they never actually accepted their gay child and wouldn’t respect their final wishes.
She explained that the couple “wanted to ensure that everything was in place should these situations ever arise for us, so that we are legally recognised as a couple and a family.
“It also means that in the event of a separation, things hopefully won’t get messy and end in an expensive and stressful legal battle as we’ve already sorted our financials out.”
To make the day even more special, the community rallied around to donate almost everything used during the ceremony, from the venue to the wedding official and cake.
Carly said she “definitely had/have hopes that same-sex marriage will be legal at some point in my lifetime, but I didn’t see it happening anytime soon”.
So, she continued, “when we learned of The Evermore Pledge, we were really happy to find something that gave us the legal rights we really wanted in a tidy, easy-to-understand, little package.
“I still do hope marriage equality is passed soon. Even if we don’t end up getting married, I want to know I’m viewed as equal in the Government’s eyes.”
Australia announced that it had set aside $170 million for a public vote on same-sex marriage last month.
Polls have long shown favourability for marriage equality in the country, with most MPs and Senators also backing public opinion.
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Conservative Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pledged to hold the public plebiscite after narrowly winning the election last July.
However, a national vote is not necessary to legalise marriage equality and efforts to hold it have been rejected. Plebiscites are also not legally binding.
LGBT activists and opposition parties are also not supportive of the plebiscite over fears that the funding allocation is an unnecessary “fiscal risk”.
Turnbull has blocked parliamentary votes on the issue in an apparent effort to please the ultra-conservative MPs in his party.
A report by ANZ Bank in May found that Australia was losing $550 million in same-sex marriage revenue to its neighbouring country, New Zealand.
As well as income generated by weddings, the bank said that Australia was losing out on edition services such as honeymoons and divorce lawyers.