Photo: Kristina Barry

Photo: Kristina Barry

A gay activist and a lesbian have staged a marriage ceremony in protest against Australia’s prohibitive marriage laws.

Student filmmaker and LGBTI rights advocate Chad St James intended to legally marry friend Kristan Walker in Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall on Sunday, thus forming a rare ‘gay marriage’ endorsed by the federal government.

However, the wedding was called off in favour of a commitment ceremony between Walker and her long-time lesbian partner, presided over by the civil celebrant originally intended to wed St James and Walker.

“During the ceremony I realised that if I went ahead with the wedding, I would not only be taking something from myself, but from Kristan and Barbie. Ultimately it should have been Barbie standing where I was,” St James told the Star Observer.

St James described the level of support from friends and bystanders as “overwhelming,” estimating that 300 people attended the ceremony.

“The Australian Marriage Act defines marriage as between a man and woman – it doesn’t say anything about them being gay. The fact that a gay man and a lesbian can marry each other on the basis of their gender yet, they can’t marry the person they love is the ultimate shame, and makes a joke of the ‘sanctity’ of marriage,” he said.

The ceremony was filmed for inclusion in ‘Love Like Yours,’ a documentary directed by St James detailing Australia’s ongoing same-sex marriage debate and aiming to rally the LGBTI equal rights movement. In March St James raised over $4,000 to fund the film on crowdsourcing website Pozible.

The near-marriage came just a day before West Australian Liberal MP Dr Dennis Jensen advocated just such arrangements in federal Parliament, criticising the term ‘gay marriage’ as “Orwellian doublespeak” and claiming it already existed for gay people who married opposite-sex partners.

A conservative Parliamentarian noted for his outspoken climate scepticism, Jensen made the distinction after calling same-sex marriage a “social experiment” that would result in the “dismantling of society as we know it”.

“Anyone, gay, bi or heterosexual can marry a partner of the opposite sex. There is no discrimination there,” Jensen said.

Jensen made the comments during debate in Parliament’s Federation Chamber on Monday night.

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