At the moment in Australia, same sex couples can't get married.
We all know it, over 70% of us don't agree with it, and one day it will be different.
Hopefully the path to marriage equality in Australia will open up in the next week, when our elected officials will be given the opportunity to vote on whether they should have a vote about allowing same sex couples to marry.
You can find out more about the free vote on the Australian Marriage Equality (AME) website here.
There are lots of ways Australians, who believe marriage is a human right that should be available to all consenting adults, can add their voice to the debate, start here.
Marriage equality in Australia will happen, but we can't just wait for it to happen, we need to help. Many Australian (and international) businesses and celebrities are standing up to support same sex marriage in Australia, as you can see here and here, and you can even contribute to AME's campaign.
As of this morning, #wecandothis is trending in Australia on social media, largely due to the family who run the Canberra Airport. Individuals can make a difference. We CAN do this!
Some television stations are even refusing to take money from an anti marriage equality group who want to play their ad on commercial tv.
Marriage equality isn't just about legislation, though; it's about social change. Being a celebrant working in this time of inequality, my colleagues and I have an opportunity to work at a grassroots level to help make that change.
With every couple I work with, I gently ask them if they believe in marriage equality, and whether they would like to acknowledge that they look forward to a future where marriage is available to all consenting adults in love.
The following statement, known as the Monitum, is currently legally required to be read by the celebrant during an Australian wedding ceremony:
“I am a duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law. Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter. Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”
When my husband and I were planning our own wedding, our celebrant asked us if we would like to make a disclaimer after the Monitum. Our celebrant was our friend, and knew us well, and knew that we supported marriage equality. We said we would like a disclaimer, but somehow, it didn't make it in to the final script.
A very close friend of mine, who is a lesbian, confided in me after our wedding, that the Monitum is like a slap in the face to a LGTBI person.
To her, it feels like someone is holding up a sign saying, “You are not welcome here”.
This is not a party you can come to.
I was heartbroken that a miscommunication between us and our celebrant meant that my friend felt that way on our wedding day, but I'm glad that it happened, because it has highlighted how important it is for a disclaimer to be added after the Monitum, and now I clearly communicate it to all my couples.
However, the disclaimer isn't just about making your LGTBI friends and family feel included though, it's about standing up in front of your community, and letting them all know you want things to be better, that you stand up for equality.
This could be the first time some of your guests have ever thought about it, and you have their undivided attention; you can plant seeds of equality throughout your whole community, from your teenaged cousins, to your ageing grandparents.
About 70% of my couples choose to make a disclaimer after the monitum. Some couples who believe in equality decide not to, as they don't want to get up on a soapbox on their wedding day; some choose not to because they don't know any LGTBI people and it's not relevant to them and others choose not to out of respect for their family's religious beliefs.
And that is fine; it's their day and it's not my place (or anyone's place) to judge them for that.
I will add though, some of the most joyful and intense moments in my job, have occurred when I've read a disclaimer and made eye contact with a person who is crying and nodding, or when a guest has yelled out "Hear, hear" in agreement or when the entire crowd has spontaneously started applauding. Being on the right side of history feels awesome!
Please find some examples of the 'Monitum Disclaimer' below and if you are a celebrant feel free to use them in your own ceremonies. One is adapted from wording on the Australian Marriage Equality website.
“However, Sarah and John look forward to a day when marriage is a right any couple can share.”
“Whilst Olivia and Pete are okay with not getting out of marriage alive, and with excluding all others from their union, they strongly believe in, and support marriage equality, and they look forward to the day when marriage is a human right which any consenting couple in love can share.”
“Having said these formal words, Kate and Adam have requested that I read out a short statement of their own.
They believe that the highest expression of commitment that two people can make is to stand up and publicly declare their love in front of their friends and family. The ability to do this, and to be legally recognised by the state, is a solemn responsibility, a privilege, and much more. It is a basic human right.
Kate and Adam believe that this right should be available to all couples, and hope that one day soon this will change for the better.”
“Rebecca and Phil feel extremely sad that the commitment of marriage they make to one another today, is currently a privilege and not a basic right, that it is unavailable in Australia for everyone, including for some of their dearest friends who would love to make the same commitment. Rebecca and Phil both feel a sense of shame towards our country's law-makers, who they feel have failed in their jobs to preserve true equality and opportunity for all.”
you could stage a silent protest like this awesome couple did. Click the photo to read the story.
Call or email your MP's, tell your friends and family that you support marriage equality and sometime very soon we will all get to celebrate some seriously fabulous marriages.
For any LGTBI people planning your wedding, look for the icon below when searching for a celebrant, and you will know that the celebrant is LGTBI couple friendly, and more than happy to marry you. Click the image below to learn more about this initiative.
I'd also love to hear what other 'Monitum Disclaimers' my creative, fellow celebrants have come up with; or what you used at your own wedding, please comment below.