Gays marry in midnight wedding ceremonies across Australia

Same-sex couples married in midnight ceremonies across Australia on Tuesday after the last legal impediment to gay marriage expired.

In this photo provided by Rodney Croome, Lainey Carmichael, left, Roz Kitschke, right, and celebrant Jason Betts pose as they show Lainey and Roz’s marriage certificate at their home in Franklin, south of Hobart, Australia Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. (Rodney Croome via AP)

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.

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.

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’ like the heat that much,” she said.

Related: Australian Parliament allows same-sex marriages

Wedding guest Rodney Croome, a long-time 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.”

“Today we are a more equal and inclusive country that treats all loving, committed couples the same,” Croome said in a statement.

The Australian Parliament overwhelming voted for same-sex marriage after a nationwide postal survey found that 62 per cent 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.

Civil celebrant Charles Foley has been campaigning for years to get Australia to drop the one-month waiting period, which he said is among the longest in the world.

The federal government imposed it at the request of churches decades ago so parishioners would have time to say why they may object to some religious unions, Foley said.

Related: 2 couples tie the knot in Australia’s 1st same-sex weddings

Ireland has a waiting period of three months.

Australia and Ireland are the only countries that have put the question of legalizing gay marriage to a popular vote.

Ireland held a legally binding referendum in 2015 to change its constitution. The referendum found 62 per cent of respondents wanted marriage equality.

Australia’s conservative government held a non-binding postal survey to avoid dividing its own lawmakers and pledged to vote on the issue if Australians endorsed equality. They did, and lawmakers quickly passed the legislation.

Civil celebrant Judy Ulich married 11 same-sex couples over five days in 2013 in the national capital Canberra before the High Court overturned a local territory law that briefly provided marriage equality. The court unanimously upheld the federal government’s urgent case that the territory law was invalid because it was inconsistent with a federal prohibition on same-sex marriage.

Ulich said she was looking forward to marrying for a second time several same-sex couples whose brief marriages had been overruled. But none of her 15 gay marriage bookings was for Tuesday. Most same-sex couples preferred to wait for a suitable weekend.

“Unless people really wanted to make a statement and marry two minutes after midnight, people generally don’t choose Tuesday, which is a working day,” she said.

“In most cases, they want to have a celebration. They want people to be able to rejoice with them because they had such a big fight to get the right to marry,” she added.

Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Victoria painter splashes some colour on a dreary situation

Six-week long James Bay construction project gives Teresa Waclawik an impromptu canvas

B.C. Transit to reduce service for spring

Route changes come in to effect April 9

Man arrested, charged in connection with stabbing at Langford Lanes

Twenty-year-old Austin Bonner has been charged with aggravated assault

U-Bicycle plans to ride into Esquimalt

Dockless bike share service launched last fall in Victoria, aims to spread across CRD

Saanich Police speed reader board stolen

Traffic safety device taken from the 4700 block of Interurban Road

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Golden Knights win 4-1, remain undefeated against Canucks

Vegas gets points from 12 players in dominating effort versus Vancouver

City of Victoria seeks artists to contribute to upcoming public exhibitions

Submissions for Commercial Alley gallery, bus shelter project due by April 9

Alberta budget plans for Trans Mountain expansion

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says expected revenues will be factored into budget forecasts

Plane filled with smoke lands at Nanaimo Airport

WestJet flight came in from Vancouver

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Rescued Comox canoer credits those ‘at the right place, at the right time’

James Milne was rescued in a hypothermic state Sunday near Goose Spit

Proposed gun bill attacked by gun owners and shooting victims

The federal government tabled the bill today in order to tighten the sale and tracking of firearms

Most Read