Same-sex marriage isn’t the law of the land in Australia. But a lesbian couple has paved the way for legally binding partnerships that mirror marriage.
31-year old blogger Carly Naughton and her 28-year old partner Alee Fogarty took the Evermore Pledge this month, a legally binding vow created by the Australian Marriage Service and Nevile & Co. Commercial Lawyers that grants couples similar rights as to the Australian Marriage Act.
The vow allows partners to exercise power of attorney, next of kin, and funeral planning. Now that Naughton and Fogarty have taken the vow, the women are partners in the eyes of the law.
When the idea of “marriage” first came up, Naughton and Fogarty were less concerned about the ceremony itself and more interested in how the Evermore Pledge would protect their rights. But as plans got underway, both women were overcome with excitement. They were about to become Australia’s first legally partnered gay couple—and they were blazing a path for other queer men and women to follow suit.
“We walked out as a family and saw all our loved ones staring back at us cheering and crying. It was incredibly small and intimate. That was the moment I realized how important it was,” Naughton said, Pink News reports. “Not just to us, but to our friends and family who thought they might not ever be part of something like this for us. It was important to a lot of our LGBTQIA friends too, because this is something to give them hope as well.”
Naughton stressed that same-sex couples in Australia have struggled with legal rights to visit their partners in the hospital or on their deathbed. In other cases, surviving partners have been banned at funerals by homophobic parents. The Evermore Pledge gives same-sex partners legal protections in these situations. But the fight for marriage equality isn’t over. For now, the pledge is just a temporary solution as Parliament continues to work out gay marriage.
“I still do hope marriage equality is passed soon. Even if we don’t end up getting married, I want to know I’m viewed as equal in the government’s eyes,” Naughton said.
Gay marriage remains a contentious issue in Australia, with the Australian Parliament essentially stalemated on a solution. Previously, Ben & Jerry’s has banned same-scoop ice cream cones until Australia passes gay marriage into law, and a satirical ad has looked at the trials and tribulations of coming out, hoping to encourage families to be accepting of their children’s sexuality.