When the Governor-General signed the long-long-long-awaited Marriage Amendment bill into law on December 9th last year, it kicked off a 30-day countdown before the first same-sex weddings could occur in Australia.
The month delay was due to existing notice of intention laws, however at the time, we did find out about a handful of couples who were granted shortened waiting periods due to various extenuating circumstances, meaning most of Australia believed the first same-sex weddings to be these two that occurred December 16th.
Today, however, we discovered the story surrounding the true first same-sex marriage in Australia and it’s as beautiful and touching as it is heartbreaking.
Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath revealed to the Courier-Mail that QLD Office of Births Deaths and Marriages granted a special exemption to Jo Grant and Jill Kindt, who got legally married in a private ceremony in their backyard on December 15th.
The extra special exemption had been gifted due to Jo’s terminal cancer, which sadly claimed her life this past January, five weeks after finally tying the knot.
The full story surrounding the utterly beautiful wedding is regaled in a blog post by the couple’s celebrant Kari, who describes how all those involved were so touched by Jo and Jill’s situation and love for one another, that everyone from the local courthouse employees to the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages cut corners, expediated processes and cancelled fees to make it happen.
…emails arrived from Births, Deaths and Marriages. They wished to offer a free registered marriage certificate and what’s more they would do it immediately. This is a process that usually takes weeks. I was so delighted by their care and understanding that I offered to hand deliver the papers to the Brisbane office first thing Monday morning, to help out the process. They made a better suggestion, and we made a plan.
The plan? Kari was to conduct the wedding in the Sunshine Coast “garden lovingly created by Jo and Jill as a shared passion” before hotfootting it down the highway and meeting a Registry official (who himself had left Brisbane heading north) at a roadside truck stop, exchanging papers and then driving back to Jo and Jill’s reception and hand delivering the certificate.
Kari (L) with newlyweds Jo and Jill. (Marion Jonkers Photographer)
Reflecting on the overwhelming day, Kari notes:
Witnessing Jill and Jo together was a love story, quite convincingly profound. When Jill was asked how long have you and Jo been together she responded, “a lifetime; and yet not long enough.”
This poignant story, whilst heartbreakingly sad in its conclusion, encapsulates everything we were fighting for in the marriage equality struggle. Purely and simply: love.
Love and its recognition in front of the law, in front of the community and in front of the people we love the most.
Rest in power Jo. We’re so, so happy you got your perfect, wondrous wedding day.