Gay couples marry at midnight as law changes in Australia
The first Australians married at midnight on Tuesday as a change in the law allowed same-sex couples to tie the knot.
Because the country has a month-long notice period for couples waiting to marry,the first wave of same-sex unions was not able to begin until January 9 – one month from the date of the law coming into effect.
But several couples couldn’t wait to tie the knot and did so at midnight as the law officially changed.
Lisa and Kylie Caro married also in Sydney, describing their wedding as “surreal”.
The couple actually put on their white gowns eighteen months ago and walked down the aisle for a commitment ceremony in Centennial Park.
But they did so on Tuesday shortly after midnight to legally wed, again at Centennial Park, joined by their young daughter Isla.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” Kylie told SMH.
“We’re both still on cloud nine.”
The couple met in 2013 and say they quickly realised they are “soulmates”.
“We thought maybe in five or 10 years we might renew our vows and legalise it at that point, but as the bill changed and the emotions grew we realised we actually did want this more than we were letting on to ourselves,” Kylie adds.
Athletes Craig Burns and Luke Sullivan also married near the east coast city of Tweed Heads.
The first same-sex weddings took place in Australia last month as several couples applied for exemption from the waiting period on financial or health grounds.
Lauren Price, 31 and Amy Laker, 29, were the first to marry in Sydney on 16 December.
Amy And Elise McDonald, 36 and 28, who happened to have the same surname, married a couple of hours later in Melbourne.
Another couple was also granted an exemption as one of them had terminal cancer.
Cas Willow died ten days after tying the knot with her partner Heather.
Australia’s parliament in December legalised same-sex marriage, passing a bill to allow two people, regardless of sex, to marry.
It came after almost 13 million Australians (79.5%) voted in the country’s non-binding postal ballot to endorse the law.
The motion was approved almost unanimously by the House of Representatives, after passing the upper chamber the previous week.
Royal Assent was given to the same-sex marriage law on 8 December following on from a historic postal vote earlier in the year which saw more than 61 percent of Australians vote Yes for same-sex marriage.
But the process to legalise same-sex marriage which included a non-binding postal vote was criticised by the United Nations Human Rights Council and LGBT rights campaigners.
The council said Australians were put “through an unnecessary and divisive public opinion poll.”
Australia’s decision to legalise same-sex marriage did not mean embossed invitations and wedding bells for everyone, however.
The law also permits same-sex couples to divorce, as two women from Perth were relieved to find.
In 2015, the women married at a consulate in Perth under the laws of a European country where same-sex marriage had already been legalised.
However, the marriage broke down and the two women separated.
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According to a report compiled by ANZ Bank, before same-sex marriage became law, the Australian economy was losing $500 million to New Zealand, where couples were flocking for weddings, honeymoons and divorce lawyers.
The Equality Campaign said: “This Bill ensures every LGBTI Australian will now be treated equally with the same dignity and respect as their fellow Australians and will be able to marry the person they love.
“This has been a tough road for LGBTI Australians, their families and friends. However, achieving marriage equality today enables us to move forward stronger and more resilient, knowing that no Australian has to ever live through this experience again.
Australia was the 25th country in the world to have marriage equality for same-sex couples.