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Religious Tolerance logo

2017-DEC: Australia's first
"intent to marry" forms issued.
The first same-sex marriage.

Part 33:

first SSM marriage 1

The first SSM: Amy Laker is on the left; Lauren Price is next to her.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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2017-DEC-09: The first "intent to marry" forms issued:

Daniel Barnett and Daniel Gray-Barnett arrived at the NSW Registry of Birth, Deaths and Marriage the next day, and became the first same-sex couple in the area to obtain and register their intent to marry form. Mr Grey-Barnett said:

"We didn't think we'd legally be able to get married this early, this soon in our lives, so it's really nice to be doing it."

Mr Barnett said:

"It's a relief. It's been pretty stressful the last six to 12 months getting through all of this. The whole postal survey thing, not nice, no one wanted to do it." 2

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Clare Jacobs and Valeria Ballantyne were the first female couple at the registry. Ms. Jacobs said:

"We actually got ... [a form] last night and it said 'Bride and Groom.' This morning they gave us the right one. It says 'partner' and 'partner' so it's huge. It's great!"

Michael Teulon is a marriage celebrant in Sydney. He said that appointments for marriages in January are filling in fast. He said:

"Just in the last day, there's been a lot of couples out there, same-sex couples who are jumping at the opportunity to take advantage from the 9th of January to get married. ... I've also had a rush from straight couples wanting to get married because I think they're getting caught up with the rush factor and concerned that unless they book and get things sorted at their receptions, they may be pushed out of the market by same-sex couples."

Starting on DEC-09, at all marriages, celebrants will be required to read out a different statement, called a monitum, which explains the nature of marriage. In the past, they said:

"Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life." 3

The new statement now refers to "union of two people."

The Inner West [Municipal] Council in Sydney is accepting bookings for same-sex marriages in its halls, community centers, and parks at no charge over a 100-day period starting on JAN-07. 4

Attorney General Gordon Ramsay of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) announced that special arrangements would be made for 31 same-sex couples who had been married in 2013 under ACT's failed marriage equality legislation. It was later ruled to be unconstitutional, and the couples were forcibly divorced. The government will eliminate the AU$55.00 cost of a wedding certificate for any of the 31 couples who would like to marry again.

Ramsay said:

"It’s a way of being able to acknowledge the difficulties that some of those couples have been through."

The cost of a certificate is equivalent to about US $41.00. 4

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Conservative Christian couple planned to divorce, but changed their mind:

Sarah and Nick Jensen are a conservative Christian married couple. They promised to get divorced if same-sex marriages became recognized in Australia. They would continue to live together and refer to each other as "wife" and "husband." However, they would be no longer married. More than 100,000 people joined a Facebook event called: "Celebrating Nick and Sarah Jensen’s divorce."

Lawyer Michael Tiyce in Sydney offered free legal support to the couple. He said:

"My firm does quite a bit of pro bono work in family law each year in the gay, lesbian and trans community. I thought offering assistance to Nick and Sarah would be an excellent way of reaching out across communities with my family law expertise, because quite simply they are going to need it." 5

It turns out that marriage law in Australia requires that a divorce can only be granted if the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

The "This is True" source of "weird news" commented:

"... there’s no better way to demonstrate the sanctity of marriage than by divorce." 5

After the marriage equality law was passed by Parliament, the couple seems to have a change of opinion. Mr Jensen released a statement saying:

"The legislation currently makes it untenable for us to do this under the law. The point we were highlighting and that still stands however is the fact that a redefinition of marriage changes the agreement under which we were originally married. ... We will be making no further comment." 6

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2017-DEC-16: Australia's first same-sex marriage:

Lauren Price, 31, originally from Briton Ferry, UK, married Amy Laker, 29, in Sydney, Australia, three weeks earlier than was expected. They had originally planned to be married at the British Consulate, but decided to try to have a regular Australian marriage ceremony instead.

The Price-Laker couple and another couple in Melbourne applied for an special exemption to marry earlier than the law allowed, because their families had already travelled to Australia for the previously planned commitment cerenomies.

Lauren had originally travelled to Australia as part of a world-wide tour. She met Amy in a bar. Their relationship deepened. Lauren decided to abandon her vacation plans, and stay in the country.

She said:

"I ended up staying here really and didn't do any travelling. After a year I took Amy back to Wales to meet my family and we went on a short trip to Paris, [where] I proposed on top of the Eiffel Tower. We did plan on marrying and it was in place for around 18 months but we were going to have to do it through the British consulate in Canberra.

It was going to be on a different date to when the commitment ceremony was, when all of our friends and family were going to celebrate with us. When the law changed we put forward a shortage of notice [application to marry], and we were lucky enough to be able to make the ceremony the actual legal marriage as well, which was really fortunate.

[Being married] means everything because legally over here ... [not being married] would have meant a lot of complications.

As a partner you wouldn't have the rights without being married, as other couples do, to anything ... even if something bad happened in hospital, or children. ... it's more awkward to explain things without having a marriage certificate to be able to show that you've got that commitment to each other and have a legal document. ..."

"I can't believe how many people have got in touch -- even [on] the day before we were getting married, everyone was getting in touch with us. ... Obviously we were very pleased. It was such a good, positive message going out everywhere.

All the positive comments and everything, even on Facebook, and people we don't know -- it was amazing." 7

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Image is a frame shot from a BBC video. 7
  2. " 'It's a relief': Same-sex couples lodge intention to marry forms at registries across Australia," SBS News, 2017-DEC-09. at:
  3. "Confusion as celebrants are informed of same-sex marriage changes with just one day’s notice,", 2017-DEC-08, at:
  4. Rod McGuirk, "Australian prime minister rushes gay marriage in to law," AP News, 2017-DEC-08, at:
  5. Randy Cassingham, "This is True," 2017-DEC-03, Issue #1,225. This link shows only reports only for the previous 2 weeks. They offer free basic subscriptions.
  6. "Australian couple who pledged to divorce if same-sex marriage became law backtrack after vote," The Telegraph newspaper (UK), 2017-DEC-07, at:
  7. "Welsh woman in Australia's first same-sex marriage," BBC, 2017-DEC-19, at:

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Copyright © 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2017-DEC-21
Author: B.A. Robinson

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