The Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages has overturned its decision to accept a Notice of Intended Marriage (NIM) from a same-sex couple.
Sharon Dane and Elaine Crump’s Notice of Intended Marriage was accepted by the Registry on 14 February after a discussion with development officer Colin Wood.
Wood accepted that, while the 1961 Marriage Act prevented same-sex couples from marrying, there was no legal reasoning for denying an NIM. Dane and Crump’s form was accepted and dated so that in the event the law was overturned they could avoid waiting a further one month and one day to be married.
But a spokesperson from the Queensland Department of Justice and the Attorney-General said the NIM had been accepted in error.
“A registry staff member received a Notice of Intended Marriage from a same-sex couple at the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Brisbane,” the spokesperson said.
“This notice was accepted in error and the application is invalid because it did not meet the requirements of the Commonwealth legislation. There is no intention for such applications to be accepted in the future.”
Dane and Crump had initially been excited by the decision, aware of the implications it would have for other same-sex couples around Australia.
“To have our form officially accepted and filed was a huge success,” Dane said. “It was a foot in the door, so to speak. We might not have made it to the altar, but we made it to the filing cabinet.”
“What it meant was that there was some way for same-sex couples to officially convey to the Government their wish to marry. ”
But the pair were told by a journalist that the department had changed its mind.
“It’s very frustrating to say the least, particularly seeing as we are as yet to be informed by the registry themselves. We actually heard about it from a journalist.
“We would at least like a written explanation as to why the decision was overturned, but so far I’ve had no luck trying to contact anyone and we’ve been told that the staff member who we dealt with is currently on leave.
“As far as we are concerned, we were on file. They have our phone numbers and contact details. We entered into an agreement of trust and should at the very least, be contacted directly.”