Nuptials and the Deep North

WEDDING PARTY Elves around the fire at our reception.
WEDDING PARTY Elves around the fire at our reception.

A Writer encounters Queensland’s LGBTQI equality record.

ON the same day as the Northern Territory found that a dingo did indeed take Azaria Chamberlain, the Queensland Government decided to release some news of its own. Perhaps, since there was plenty of other distractions for the media, they thought we wouldn’t notice?

A very important factor in our decision to move to Queensland was its record on same-sex equality.

Despite the state being a bit late on decriminalising homosexuality in 1990, in 2011 the Bligh Government passed a bill allowing same-sex civil unions.

But on Tuesday, June 12, 2012, Newman’s new conservative government bowed to pressure from christian groups and repealed part of the legislation. Civil unions are still legal in Queensland, but no state-sanctioned ceremonies are allowed for same-sex couples creating such unions.

Apparently some christians don’t want to see same-sex attracted people ‘emulating’ marriages in our ceremonies.

Obviously such objectors haven’t been to too many same-sex marriages lately … you see, we don’t really ‘do’ marriage like these christians do. We ‘do’ marriage a whole lot differently.

“The tide has long-since turned for same-sex equality across Australia.”

Richard and I were married at Twizel on the South Island of New Zealand, during a Lord of the Rings tour guided by Discovery Tours, who take people into the foothills of the Southern Alps where location shoots were conducted for the movie trilogy.

We’re not dyed-in-the-wool LOTR fans, we just wanted to get married in a wilderness region without all the hassles of permissions and insurance. The setting was magnificent and soul-lifting, a perfect place to create a lasting union.

Back at home in the Blue Mountains, however, we went further by hosting a Lord of the Rings-themed party in our garden, for our family and friends. Richard thought of the costume idea, because he didn’t want to be the only one dressed-up.

We had quite a small house, but that was offset by a huge garden, so, in late May 2008, we invited everyone for what we hoped would be a lovely autumnal afternoon and evening, outside.

About half an hour before the ceremonial start to the party, the weather took a turn for the worse. Our guests, bedecked in everything from Hobbit feet to Ent branches, and smatterings of Elvish ears, sheltered in a billowing marquee.

Now, The Reverend Fred Nile might have prayed for rain on our parade, but as Richard and I dressed in our medieval-style outfits, a patch of blue sky shone out of the west.

By the time we were marching up the aisle of our driveway, to stand beside the anvil where our guests were forging our wedding bands, the rain was gone.

We were enveloped in so much love – friends playing and singing our favourite songs (our wedding march was ‘Moon River’); family taking care of us (my sister Jen was dressed as an Elf we named Gilgandra, which is pretty close to Galadriel); other friends speaking or performing for us; and everyone braving the conditions around a series of fires, well into the night.

It was an elemental celebration like no other.

Leaving the garden where this event took place was a little sad – little bits of sparkly confetti were always surfacing here and there in our cool climate paradise, a reminder of our wedding party – but this time in our lives was one step on a long journey.

You see, despite some christian’s doubts about the validity of our marriage, we really are in it for the long haul.

We could be angry that Queensland seems to be a case of two steps forward, and one back, for same-sex couples … but we’re already married, and we’ve headed north.

The tide has long-since turned for same-sex equality across Australia, and we were happy to ride that wave into Queensland, with our progressive votes at the ready.

© Michael Burge, all rights reserved.

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