Australians Are Trying REALLY Hard To Make Their Weddings Gay-Friendly
Warning signs, preambles, and sometimes two ceremonies to avoid insult.
At every Australian wedding, the civil celebrant must read a set of words that codify the marriage under national law. The problem is that the phrase is a socially backward and insulting group of words people are trying to sidestep.
Paul Mackay, 27, is a trainee celebrant who told BuzzFeed News the phrase is called the "monitum" (warning) and includes a legal definition of marriage added by the conservative former prime minister John Howard in 2004.
The phrase is this:
Before you are joined in marriage in my presence, and in the presence of these witnesses, your family and friends, I must remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship that you are about to enter.
Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
The "between a man and a woman" phrase has distressed many couples, with others arguing it is proof there is no such thing as a gay-friendly wedding in Australia.
But Mackay said an extra statement can be added.
"It might say: 'Having read those formal words, the couple would like me to read a passage of their own, and acknowledge that they believe any loving relationship deserves to be recognised as equal under the law.'"
He said it makes their audience aware of their legal obligations and objection.
Another practice becoming more common is couples having separate legal marriages and then hosting an all-in wedding with family and friends.
Mackay said friends of his were recently married on a Friday at a private ceremony and then the next day had a fun wedding party with family and friends where they said whatever they liked.
"Wedding ceremonies should be personal and reflect the tone and personality of the couple, so there's no one-size-fits-all approach," he said. "Acknowledging commitment to marriage equality can be as long or short and as formal or light as a couple feels appropriate."
If you think that's drastic, Mamamia editor Jamila Rizvi, 28, was so upset at the prospect of insulting gay friends at her wedding she had this sign at the entrance.
"There was discussion of a disclaimer by our celebrant, having that part of the ceremony relayed without a microphone for example," she told BuzzFeedNews.
"Ultimately we decided a sign was the best way to go and we enjoyed seeing many of the guests physically blocking their ears during the distasteful part of the ceremony."
These are just some of the strategies Australians are employing to get around a legal passage that upsets many supporters of marriage equality.
"Several people said they were touched that as a heterosexual couple, we went beyond mere 'lip service' to marriage equality and made our calls from change an explicit part of the ceremony and reception," said Rizvi (pictured above with her husband).
With a majority of Australians in favour of marriage equality (72% according to recent polling), it seems inevitable that the almost comical signs and preambles will eventually be dropped.
Let's hope political leaders have their ears open to the community on the issue.