Home' LOTL : Mardi Gras 2018 Contents 39
lotl.com • Lesbians On The Loose Magazine
MARRIAGE LAWS | THOUGHTS
Lee Winter is an award-winning veteran newspaper journalist who has covered courts, crime, news, features and humor
writing. Now a full-time author and part-time editor, Lee is also a two-time Lambda Literary Award finalist and a double
Golden Crown Literary Award winner. She has just just published The Brutal Truth with Ylva.
his estranged mother was his closest
living relative. Ben was not allowed to
see his fiancé’s body or plan the funer-
al. The treatment of Ben was a shock to
many ordinary Australians who discov-
ered that de facto same-sex couples
were not treated the same as hetero-
As one Tasmanian official told The
Guardian Australia, “the great thing
about a marriage certificate is that ev-
eryone understands what it means and
no-one can challenge it”.
Then there was the case of the mar-
ried English tourists. David Bulmer-Rizzi
was on his honeymoon in Adelaide with
his husband, Marco, when David fell
down some stairs and died.
Officials in Adelaide found that there
was no provision in the computer for
a same-sex married couple to be ac-
knowledged on the death certificate as
the next of kin, and no way to leave Da-
vid’s marital status blank, either.
“Literally within an hour, I had no
choice but to deny that we ever mar-
ried,” Marco told the media.
It got worse. David’s father in the UK
still had to sign off on all the funeral
arrangements even though he had no
problem with Marco organizing every-
The shock waves of this event were
so roundly condemned that the South
Australian Premier Jay Weatherill issued
a formal apology to Marco and worked
out how to fix it to ensure it never hap-
Of course now, due to same-sex mar-
riage being legal in Australia, it can’t
There’s still a bit of a bumpy road
ahead, though. Ex-Liberal Government
minister, Philip Ruddock, has been as-
signed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turn-
bull to head up a panel investigating
protecting religious freedoms in light
of the same-sex marriage law passing.
In other words, Ruddock’s panel will
look at who gets to decline, on religious
grounds, their services to a same-sex
couple. Ruddock is the same man who,
in 2004, introduced the legislation ban-
ning same-sex marriage in Australia to
“protect the institution of marriage”.
It should be a depressing, rhetoric-
filled few months for LGBTQ+ Aussies
when Ruddock’s panel reports its rec-
ommendations in March.
In the meantime, my focus goes back
to Croome’s words about those “who
have gone before us and those who are
yet to come”.
Those who are yet to come are the
people I am truly excited for. Not just
for myself – although it’s a surreal feel-
ing to realize that something you as-
sumed would be impossible in your
lifetime is suddenly within reach. I’m
still getting my head around that, as
well as how little I know about putting
on a wedding.
I’m thrilled for the non-straight young
people today who won’t ever feel less
than due to a law that once varied de-
pending on one’s sexuality.
I’m heartened for the parents, like les-
bian ALP senator Penny Wong, who just
want formal recognition of their couple
status for their families as well as them-
And I’m delighted for couples who
have been together for a year or for
decades. They’re all free to marry the
ones they love.
Most of all I’m overwhelmed for four,
brave women: Anne Sedgwick and Lyn
Hawkins, and Cas Willow and Heather
Richards. They’re the couples who had
to get married early for health reasons.
Sadly, Lyn passed away on December
29, having lost her battle with ovarian
cancer twelve days after marrying the
love of her life. Anne said those twelve
days made such a difference to them.
“It just really cemented for us what
marriage is about,” Anne told The Sun-
day Times. “The bond between us just
grew and grew over those twelve days.
She’ll be remembered now through our
marriage. It’s on the records.”
For Heather, who has been with Cas
for seventeen years, and whose new
wife has advanced breast cancer, a
wedding is not just a piece of paper for
It means the world to them.
“It means our relationship won’t just
be tolerated,” Heather said. “It will be
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