Two officers from North Melbourne Police Station have married in an intimate ceremony in New Zealand.
Constable Clarissa and Senior Constable Carlee met at work last February and quickly fell in love, marrying this year on January 29.
The couple chose to marry in New Zealand because Australia’s decision on marriage equality hadn’t yet been made while they were planning the wedding.
They picked a “picturesque” location near the Bay of Islands for a small ceremony, with just five close family guests.
“It was amazing,” said Carlee.
Several celebrants had responded to their enquiries with generic messages referring to the ‘husband and wife’, despite being told it would be a same-sex wedding.
In the end, Clarissa and Carlee chose a celebrant who was as excited about their wedding as they were, and specialises in officiating same-sex weddings.
Clarissa said knowing that their marriage would be recognised when they returned home was a wonderful feeling, after having been unsure whether marriage equality would pass.
“By the time we got back it was all recognised,” she said.
“We timed it really well.”
Their workplace has been supportive of their relationship and their marriage.
“Melbourne North Police have been absolutely fantastic,” said Carlee.
She said boss Senior Sergeant Wayne Woltsche “could not have been more supportive”.
“He’s a great manager, and I think the vibe of any team is set by management,” said Carlee.
“People are very friendly and very inclusive.”
Clarissa agreed the station has been “great” about their marriage.
“The amount of congratulations we’ve received, from when we started seeing each other to when we got married, has been very reaffirming,” she said.
North Melbourne Police Station is particularly LGBTI-friendly, with a larger than average number of liaison officers on staff.
“[Victoria Police] are trying very hard, in a good way,” said Carlee.
“Attitudes are definitely changing.
“I want to really highlight how great Melbourne North has been as a place to work.
“Everyone has been so excited and supportive.”
Senior Sergeant Woltsche said all his staff have been proud to support the couple.
“They announced their marriage on Facebook, and the station has just got around them. We’re all so proud of them,” he said.
“It’s just fantastic.”
Woltsche said the attitudes to LGBTI people in the police force have evolved substantially.
“To be able to come out and announce [a same-sex relationship] to a police station would be unheard of in previous days,” he said.
Woltsche said members of the LGBTI community should feel confident that they can bring any problems to the police and be treated well.
“Anyone that has any issues can come forward,” he said.
“It’s not a place where anyone will turn a blind eye.”
A spokesperson said Victoria Police has worked hard to be a welcoming environment for LGBTI employees, introducing a LGBTI Workforce Inclusion Strategy and Action Plan and staff network.
“Victoria Police is proud of its diverse workforce, and is committed to creating a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace for all,” they said.
“Victoria Police is proud of how far it has come and will continue to do more to ensure all employees, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender or gender identity are treated equally.”