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

Thieves keep Oceanside RCMP busy

Thefts from vehicles, businesses, mailboxes revealed in latest crime report

Parksville Qualicum Beach students the catalyst for #TrustYourself campaign

Social media initiative urges survivors of sexual assault to seek medical care

One new face on Qualicum school board

Laura Godfrey brings experience as Sea to Sky trustee, interest in Indigenous learning

$75K deal for advertising at Oceanside Place

RDN set to directly award contract to ad firm

ORCA continues push for track upgrade at Ballenas

Running association official plans to meet with MLA on Thursday

VIDEO: Stan Lee leaves posthumous message for his fans

Marvel Comics’ co-creator died on Monday at the age of 95

‘This is gangster,’ bait car thief declares on video

Footage from Abbotsford gains attention on social media

B.C. to fund gender-affirming surgeries for transgender people

Roughly 100 people in B.C. travel each year out of province for lower surgeries

U.S. mayor and dying dog’s roadtrip to B.C. goes viral

First vacation in three years came a month after blood cancer diagnosis

Federal fall update expected to offer more support for struggling news industry

Ottawa committed $50 million over five years for local journalism in ‘underserved communities’ last budget

UK’s May appeals to public on Brexit, braces for more blows

British Prime Minister Theresa May answered questions from callers on a radio phone-in, the day after she vowed to stay in office

Ottawa apologizes to Japanese family in B.C. after chopping historic cherry trees

Plaque installed in Prince Rupert to honour the memory of Shotaro Shimizu

UPDATED: $136M in transit funding coming to B.C.

The announcement was made at the BC Transit yard in Langford on Friday morning

Two B.C. police officers, held in Cuba for months, cleared of sex assault allegations

Port Moody Const. Jordan Long and Vancouver Const. Mark Simms have been in Cuba since March

Most Read