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The Kindness Of Strangers Will Allow This Woman Her Dying Wish To Marry Her Partner

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They're a loving couple of eight years who live in Devonport, Tasmania, and want nothing more than to be married. But same-sex marriage is illegal in Australia – and Lee Bransden is running out of time.

Suffering from end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Lee has been told she has just weeks to live.

Her dying wish is to marry Sandra in New Zealand, the closest country to Australia where marriage equality is legalised.

However, money is tight for the two former nurses, who are both on pensions and lost their life savings after a property investment went sour.

Travelling to New Zealand was financially out of the question for the pair, with the money they do have going towards pre-paying for Lee's funeral.

"We sold the camper van we had to pay for her funeral," Sandra told BuzzFeed News.


However, after a successful crowdfunding campaign raised over $8,000, Sandra and Lee will be able to travel to New Zealand and have their dream wedding.

Sandra told BuzzFeed News they were "absolutely exuberant".

"I couldn't even find the words to say how thrilled we were with the response, how utterly in awe we are," she said.

"People have reached to the bottom of their pockets and just given so generously to support us in our venture to be married in New Zealand."

The crowdfunding campaign was started in late April by advocacy group Australian Marriage Equality. It has exceeded its target of $6,500 to pay for Sandra and Lee's flights, accommodation, and ceremony.

Sandra said they would get married in Rotorua, as indigenous culture is significant to the pair.

"We're both of Aboriginal descent and as Lee worked in New Zealand for 25 years she was really connected to Maori culture and it's very special to both of us," she said.

Their love story began 30 years ago, when Sandra asked Lee to give her a job picking apples at an orchard.

"I said 'I'm from Tassie, I can pick apples' and she thought 'You cheeky thing, I'll give you a job'. So she gave me a job," Sandra said.

"I think she fell in love with me then. She didn't say anything, we've been best friends for 30 years and it was only 8 years ago that I had a divorce, we got together and we connected."

"I realised how I felt about her. I loved her."

They will travel to New Zealand next week, as Lee's condition is sadly worsening.

"Time is of the essence," Sandra told BuzzFeed News.

"I don't think we can put it off too long, and the sooner we get moving the better it is, because I just don't know. She had a small stroke a week ago as well."

Although 72% of the Australian population is in favour of marriage equality, there is currently insufficient support in the federal parliament for reforms to pass.

Sandra said the politicians should "get off their bums" and change the law.

"I'd say get off your bums, look at the community, look at people's tolerance levels, look at the whole picture. It's an absolute necessity that they accept marriage equality."

Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said that Lee and Sandra's predicament is a reminder that marriage equality is about people, not politics.

"Their dire situation is also a reminder that marriage equality is an urgent reform that needs to be resolved now, not some distant or trivial issue that politicians can put to one side."

Both Sandra and Lee are overwhelmed by the generosity of those who donated and excited for their big day.

"We've had a lot of bad luck, we've had a lot of hard times. But this is absolutely geed us up, with the humanity and absolute generosity of people," Sandra said.

"It's been absolutely generous in every way, whether that's verbally, or contributing to our cause, to our needs, to our wishes, to our dreams. To make Lee's life happier, to give her something more to live for."

"I just can't thank everybody enough."