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It's Our Three-Year Wedding Anniversary But Our Marriage Is Still Not Legal In Australia

We believe, though, that loving Australians will soon help us change that.
Shirleene and Sarah on their wedding day at the British Consulate in Sydney.
Shirleene and Sarah on their wedding day at the British Consulate in Sydney.

As the campaign to win the postal vote continues in earnest, we had special cause to reflect on the personal meaning of marriage this week. We both signed up to volunteer with Australian Marriage Equality back in 2012 as we felt very strongly that marriage equality would send a message to all Australians that they are equal citizens and the love they feel is worthy. Over this time, we have seen public support snowball and grow into the once-in-a-generation, people-powered movement we see today.

A couple of years later, in 2014, we were lucky enough to be able to get married in the British Consulate in Sydney. That was three years ago this week. The following day, after the legal ceremony, we had another ceremony -- one that was legally unrecognised -- on Balmoral Beach, where many friends and family members were able to join us on a beautiful September day.

Although our marriage is not legally recognised in Australia, our wedding was a beautiful and meaningful moment in both our lives. What really surprised us, in the best possible way, was how our family and friends came together to support us and to make sure the day was perfect for us. We had guests come from as far away as Cambodia, Japan and England as well as from interstate. There was love, merriment and so much joy over those two days. The memory of both our mums and dads walking each of us down the aisle will be something we cherish forever. Marriage is certainly about the love between two people but it is also about expressing that love and celebrating it with the people who mean the most to you.

We understand that hundreds of couples have married in British Consulates across Australia. There are also many more same-sex couples who have married overseas. New Zealand has proven to be a particularly popular destination. It is a very surreal situation when Australians can have their marriages recognised after a three-hour plane flight to New Zealand but not when they return home to their own country.

It is abundantly clear that Australian same-sex couples are marrying, often at great difficulty and without loved ones who cannot travel to be with them. Their weddings are positive for Australian society. It's more than time that these couples had their marriages recognised in their home country. And of course, it is also well overdue that as a nation we include all loving and committed couples in our marriage laws.

We hear many conflated arguments from the NO side in this marriage equality debate. Unrelated issues are often raised and scare tactics have been depressingly common. This has been tough for the LGBTQ community and their friends and families. We believe, though, that Australians see through this and understand that marriage equality is simply about people, love and fairness.

We have seen some terribly sad consequences of Australia delaying marriage equality. A friend, Peter Bonsall Boone (Bon), died without being able to marry his partner of 50 years, Peter de Waal. Peter de Waal still courageously campaigns for marriage equality in an effort to make sure that other Australians do not have to go through what he and Bon went through.

As we go through this campaign, we have seen many houses decorated and signs put up by everyday people showing their support. Resilience continues to shine throughout. Times like this remind us of the true spirit of our community that continues forge a path to equality despite adversity.

This campaign is a long one. There are still many more weeks ahead of us until the results of the postal survey will be announced on 15 November. So many everyday people from across this country have put enormous effort into campaigning for this reform, whether it be through door-knocking, participating in phone banking or having conversations with people about why marriage equality matters.

With the long weekend approaching, we would like to ask people to make sure that they are looking after themselves. There has been a human cost to this postal survey and it is very important that people take the time to look after their own needs and to check in with friends and family. The long weekend provides a wonderful opportunity to focus on personal relationships -- and after all, that is what we are all working so hard to recognise.

The work for the YES vote will continue and there will be many more opportunities to contribute to these efforts in weeks ahead. For now, we would like to thank everyone for their remarkable efforts thus far, the kindness they have shown to others going through the postal plebiscite and the positivity they have maintained in this very personal debate.

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