THOUSANDS of social media users continue to dominate Facebook and Twitter feeds with posts that show widespread support for Australia’s first ever legal same-sex marriages in the ACT today.
The impending threat of the High Court striking down the territory’s same-sex marriage laws on Thursday was put on the back burner as couples exchanged vows from early as midnight this morning, when most of the country was asleep.
Canberra’s Telstra Tower also blacked out at 11.59pm on Friday evening, but was subsequently lit in rainbow colours at midnight to mark the first same-sex weddings that took place at around 12.01am.
Alan Wright and Joel Player, along with Western Australian MP Stephen Dawson and Dennis Liddelow, were the first couples to be married at different locations in Canberra, making theirs the first same-sex marriages to be legally enacted and recognised on Australian soil.
“To have it finally legalised, it’s a big step for us in our relationship, so we’re just wanting to get it done,” Player told Fairfax media.
“It’s a bloody giant leap forward for Australia.”
Social media users agreed:
So nice to look at the clock and know that Australia’s first gays are married under ACT legislation. Happy Weddingmas, Canberra! — eltonswayze (@eltonswayze) December 6, 2013
As a straight married man, I’m concerned how these marriages in ACT will affect me… kidding! Congratulations everyone! #MarriageEquality
— Dr Michael Marner (@MichaelMarner) December 7, 2013
Beyond thrilled for all of the couples married in Canberra today. Congratulations!! #marriageequality
— Melissa (@MsMelissani) December 7, 2013
— Hayden Williams (@hayd_williams) December 7, 2013
I’m getting sent Snapchats of some fucking amazing weddings happening right now in Canberra. It’s a start #MarriageEquality
— Matty Whiting (@thisismerelaxin) December 7, 2013
Despite the widespread support, those who opposed the marriages also voiced their opinions.
Australian Christian Lobby spokesman Lyle Shelton appeared on Sky News and predicted “big social consequences” and the negative effects this could have on children.
Many social media users also highlighted that while it was a good day if you were in a same-sex relationship, those who identified as trans missed out.
But for Alan Wright and Joel Player, they wanted their wedding to be a day of joy.
So much so that they kept the destination of their ceremony secret to their guests until late Friday night, to ensure anti-gay marriage protesters would not be present.
“We’ve been who we have been for 15 years – we’ve been through coming out, we’ve gone through the hate we’ve copped all our lives, and it was just this one time I didn’t want the hate,” Player told Fairfax media.
The couple said they knew that on December 12 the High Court could rule the ACT’s same-sex marriage legislation was not valid, which would then mean their marriage has to be annulled.
However, Player said that no matter what happened, the five days that their marriage would be legal and the support that has flooded in from around the country was “already powerful as it is”.
At around 1pm, Australian Marriage Equality deputy national director Ivan Hinton married Chris Teoh in the the Senate Court Yard of Old Parliament House before fronting a media scrum with other newly-hitched same-sex couples.
A photo of newly-married Hinton and Teoh posing in front of a portrait of former Prime Minister John Howard and his wife Janette soon went viral on social media:
Photo of the day. pic.twitter.com/t9OO7HeM2M
— Benjamin Law (@mrbenjaminlaw) December 7, 2013