BLOG image why i said i do after 17 years

Why I said “I Do” after 17 years

I married the love of my life on Sunday 25th March.

As a couple who are in their 18th year together, you might wonder why bother with marriage? Our union is strong. Our love is enduring. Our life together doesn’t need the stamp of marriage legitimacy. We don’t need a piece of paper to prove anything.

The truth is that until approximately 6pm on the 7th December 2017, our partnership was without value, effect, consequence, or significance. The validity, legitimacy and legal status of our strong, enduring love and life together was null and void. That piece of paper was not an option for us. Because we are a same-sex couple.

Until 10am on 15th November when the results of the Australian Marriage Equality postal vote were announced and then at 6pm on the 7th December 2017, when the Australian parliament legislated for marriage equality, my partner and I, in our 18th year together,  were denied the same human and legal rights as opposite sex couples.

Australians were asked to decide if my partner and I could be equal.

If you are Australian, of voting age, you were asked to decide if our relationship, our love, our commitment was equal. You were asked to do this because our parliamentary leaders, with some notable exceptions, lacked the guts and decency to do their job, their elected mandate, which is to legislate for the good of this country and its citizens. ALL citizens.

All voting aged Australians were sent a slip of paper with a question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” The government was at pains to point out that it was a voluntary survey, anonymous and would help guide the legislators in their decision-making. About me. About us. About whether we should be considered equal.

Australia was a joke on the world stage.

I recall watching late night American TV where one comedian was apoplectic and incredulous about what ‘those folks down under’ were up to on same-sex marriage. 

Many of us here in Australia were apoplectic too. And embarrassed. Many other emotions ensued. The marriage equality debate was simply awful. It provided a platform for open and loud homophobic slurs, bigotry and hatred. As a gay woman, I was hurt, angry, scared and embarrassed but never, ever cowed. But I wondered if I was worthy enough, because when enough mud gets flung at you, some sticks to you.

I was pessimistic

I didn’t dare to hope that 2017 was finally going to be the year that we would be considered equal. Considered worthy. Considered to be enough. After all, why hope for something that you’d grown up believing couldn’t happen. But those amazing, rock solid, tenacious, resilient people who’ve dedicated their lives to fighting for us and our relationship to be considered equal never gave up hope. They campaigned, they advocated, they agitated right up to the end. Thank you to the hundreds of activists, advocates and campaigners, which for so many of you has been a life long mission.

Fortunately, the efforts of these extraordinary Australians weren’t in vain, because 79 percent of Australians voted and 61 percent of Australians agreed that we should be equal. Resoundingly, overwhelmingly, joyously agreed and they said “YES” to us and more than 31,000 other Australian same-sex couples being able to marry the person they loved and chose to spend the rest of their life with.

When history was made

So on Sunday 25th March at 11:10am…..

  • 17 years after falling in love;
  • 129 days after the YES vote announcement on November 15th;
  • 107 days after the Australian parliament legislated for marriage equality on December 7th and;
  • 102 days after the love of my life asked me to marry her on December 12th;

We took each other to be each other’s lawful wife.

We promised to continue to love each other, respect each other, laugh with each other, cry with each other, honour each other and protect each other forsaking all others for as long as we both shall live.

Because now we could. Because now we are equal. Because now we are included. Because now we belong. And yes, now we are married.

Michelle Redfern Certificate of Marriage

This article was originally published by Advancing Women, and authored by Michelle Redfern

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Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Director

Jade Collins has 20 years’ global experience in corporate executive Human Resources and management consulting roles in the Mining, Energy and Aerospace industries, leading large scale, complex multi-million-dollar change management programs. Jade finds the combination of her HR, Psychology and MBA qualifications and her leadership experience is invaluable for increasing gender equality in leadership across industries. Jade was a member of the Queensland Government's Strategic Advisory Group for the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative and the 2019 CQU Alumni of the Year for Social Impact for her work with Femeconomy.