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What YES means for my family

What YES means for my family

Adele met the love of her life, Monique 20 years ago. They have two children, Baeleigh and Caden and like all parents, all they want is the very best for their kids and their family. Adele comments on the challenges she and Monique have had raising young kids in a society that hasn't yet recognised her and Monique's relationship as equal. This is Adele's story. This is why marriage equality is so important. Pledge your support for marriage equality here today

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Hello my name is Adele; I met the love of my life, Monique nearly 20 years ago. 

We have been together since then.  We’ve been through a lot together like all couples do over the years.  It is this that makes us like so many couples around Australia.  The only difference between us and many of our heterosexual counterparts is that we are both women.  Yet truly that is the only difference as far as our relationship is concerned.  Except for one other - our right to have the choice to enter into civil marriage. 

I am not referring to a religious marriage which is a ceremony most often held within a church.  I am referring to the legal act which is a civil marriage upheld by the Australia Marriage Act of 1966. 

In the year 2000 Monique and I had a Commitment Ceremony.  Civil Unions or Relationship Registers didn’t exist in Queensland at this time. 

So it was as ‘wedding like’ as we could make it. 

We had a ceremony with a minister from Metropolitan Community Churches, we invited lots of friends and family, had our hair done, special clothes bought and a wedding cake made.  We had speeches and while it was fun and special it deviated from the image of a wedding we had in our minds.    However, it was our only option at the time to celebrate our entering a lifetime of commitment to one another. 

As the years went by the meaning of that Commitment Ceremony diminished in our eyes because we knew what we were missing. 

Soon it became a memory of a great party with friends and family celebrating our relationship but lacked the significance of a genuine marriage. 

In 2003, we welcomed the birth our first child, our daughter Baeleigh and 2005 we welcomed our son Caden.  Like all parents we want only the best for our children and our family.  They absolutely light up our lives and we are so proud to be raising such well adjusted, happy, thriving children. Our family home is such a happy and stable one, where our children are surrounded by many loving family members and friends. 

As parents raising young children, it is difficult to explain to them that the government doesn’t want or doesn’t think it is important to recognise their parents’ relationship as equal. 

Equal to others such as their grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends.  It is difficult because there is no valid reason, all we could tell them was that the government just doesn’t consider our relationship as suitable for marriage. 

Our children, now in their early adolescence, have both formed a very firm opinion on Marriage Equality in Australia - ‘get it done already!’.  They both consider it an unnecessary drama and in their words, it makes them angry and sad that their family is being spoken about in the way some campaigners are speaking. 

We have raised our children to be proud of their family.  However, over the years they have faced hurtful criticism,

and have been told that they can’t have two mothers. This has been hard for them, especially when they were very small during those early years of day care and school. 

There have been other social situations where they have found themselves explaining their family make up to adults.  They both learned the fine art of quickly explaining their family tree; sometimes leaving the listener a little bemused.  As they have grown older their friends now find it ‘cool’ that they have two mums. 

Had Monique and I been legally married and our relationship recognised I don’t think Baeleigh and Caden would have had so many question their family make-up or tell them it was wrong to have two mums.

This is one very important reason why marriage equality matters.

The topic of when marriage will be available to all couples in Australia has our kids excited at the prospect.  They believe it will bring unity between people and happiness to many.  They also want the complaining and lies to stop and for the debate about whether people like them and their parents should be treated equally under the law to end.  In their eyes, it would be wonderful for ‘it to be done already’.  

We have watched the laws change piece by piece over the past 20 years.  

Initially we were considered by government as two single women sharing a house.  Then we were considered two single women each with a child sharing a house.  We needed to specifically write in our wills our desire to have the children stay together with the other partner in the event of one of us dying.  Without civil marriage next of kin laws to this day remain ambiguous.  I can’t begin to imagine how awful it would be for both Baeleigh and Caden to lose one parent and then be told they can’t both remain with the other parent due to some legal technicality.  But we know this is possible - as examples have shown us around Australia and the world. 

Some limited state based laws were changed in 2002 in Queensland however it wasn’t until 2008 that a range of laws were changed at the federal level to remove significant discrimination.

For the first time we were considered a ‘defacto’ couple with the associated rights that brought us. Yet, we still wait for the right to marry. 

We have extremely loving families and are fortunate that they would recognise our relationship if one of us were to die.  However, without the legal protections afforded by marriage this cannot be assured. 

Why does any of this matter? 

It matters because loving couples are denied the choice to marry the person they have committed their lives to. Through the lack of a right to civil marriage legal benefits are denied. Families raising children are met with unnecessary and hurtful ambiguity around rights and obligations. Social benefits are also denied. 

Marriage brings with it an acknowledgement of a relationship like no other relationship is acknowledged. 

There are couples across all age groups who are waiting for marriage equality.  Some have not lived to see it and instead wished for it their whole lives. 

We had the good fortune to travel to New Zealand last year to get legally married there with two of our closest friends as witnesses.  We did this despite knowing our marriage wouldn’t be recognised once we returned to Australia.  We told only a few family members and friends beforehand.  I remember my sister saying how sad she was because she could not be at our wedding. 

Our parents are ageing and if Marriage Equality doesn’t come soon they may never see me married

and be able to celebrate that with Monique, our kids and I like they have celebrated the weddings and marriages of each of their other children. 

Despite being legally married in New Zealand, with it having no standing here I feel like it somewhat cheapens and lessens the legitimacy of our marriage.  We have already missed nearly two decades of marriage if it had been legal in Australia.  Through this we have missed our parents, siblings and friends attending and celebrating our wedding and our children have grown up with the realisation their parents don’t have the same rights as their friend’s parents do. 

Please help change this for future generations of couples.  Please help change it for our little family. Love is love. 

Marriage should be available for all loving couples to choose and every child deserves to have their parents’ relationship recognised.

 

Adele Fisher.

Parenthood Member, mum of two and loving wife to Monique.

Join Adele and Monique and thousands of others and become a 'parent for marriage equality' today at theparenthood.org.au/marriageequality