Meet Perth couple Damian and Graham Douglas-Meyer. They share the same surname since getting married in Toronto, Canada, last March and are one of the three same-sex couples who’ve been planning to challenge the Australian Family Court to have their marriage recognised.
Although the Marriage Act looks set to be amended to outlaw same-sex marriage they’re hopeful the upcoming Senate inquiry will throw the legislation out.
John Howard is trying to say that unlike everyone else who gets married in Canada, our marriage can’t be recognised, said Damian. And he seems to be doing that solely to stir a hornet’s nest up in the Labor Party to make him look better at the next election.
The pair, both 40, were intending to ask the Family Court for a declaration that their marriage is valid in Australia. But if the ban is put in place, Damian said there’s probably not much point.
When asked why they wanted to get married, Damian said simply because they love each other. It’s something that’s always been close to my heart in terms of seeing siblings and friends get married, and I thought when I find someone and fall in love I want to get married too, he said.
The couple, who met two years ago, first had a commitment ceremony in Perth in front of 90 friends and family, and had an Anglican priest bless the union. Afterwards they embarked on an around-the-world trip which included a stop-off in Canada to get officially married.
Symbolically, getting married has been really important, and I never thought it would be, said Damian. It’s made me feel closer to Graham and made us both feel like a couple. It also helps his family, and probably mine to some extent, understand that our relationship is on par with all of our siblings’ relationships.
The only negative response they’ve received in Australia to their marriage has been from government departments. When they went to register their new name with the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages, no one knew quite how to deal with them.
They couldn’t stop us from changing our names, but they wanted us to provide a reason that didn’t include that we were married, because we weren’t married as far as Australian law is concerned. We sorted it out eventually but it was an interesting state of affairs.
They also had trouble when Graham, who is on a disability support pension, informed Centrelink he was married and they chose not to recognise this.