It won’t be too long before the Bega region hears the sound of same-sex wedding bells, with the first ceremony scheduled for next month.
On Tuesday, a number of same-sex couples across the nation tied the knot after seeing out the statutory one month waiting period after the Marriage Law officially changed on December 9, 2017.
While there were ceremonies held Across Australia, including some eager couples who said “I do” at the stroke of midnight, couples in the Bega region have not been as quick to act.
But Cobargo civil marriage celebrant Debra Summer has confirmed it wont be long, with two same-sex couples booking her for ceremonies in February and March this year.
Ms Summers, who has been a celebrant for 10 years, is delighted to play a role in the weddings.
“It’s really exciting for me, it represents an extraordinary leap forward for human rights,” she said.
“It really makes my heart sing.”
Ms Summer has been busily planning the ceremonies with the couples, a process she described as interesting, and at times, challenging.
“There have been a few tears shed during the process,” she said.
“A lot of what comes up in the wedding planning acknowledges the journey that had to be taken to get to this point.
“It means coming to terms with the trauma and grief and disappointment that was encountered along the way.
“I’ve found it has been a real healing process for one of the couples in particular, it has been incredible to be a part of it.”
Ms Summers said adapting to the new terminology in the adjusted Marriage Law was no problem.
Couples can now identify as a husband, wife or partner when signing their marriage certificate, or simply as party one and party two. Genders have also been updated, offering the options of male, female or other.
Ms Summer said the amendments were refreshing.
“We’re finally acknowledging the full spectrum of the LGBTQI community,” she said.
By recognising same-sex marriages, Ms Summer believes Australia is becoming a safer place for people to identify with their sexual orientation.
“After the results of the postal vote came out in favour of same-sex marriage, a young boy I know found the courage to come out to his friends and family,” she said.
“It gives people a platform to talk about these things and accept who they are, that’s why I’m so passionate about it.”
As a celebrant, Ms Summer is excited by the changes to the Marriage Law and overall wedding industry.
“I think it will be fascinating to look back at this time 30 or 40 years from now, and I feel lucky to be right at the center of it all,” she said.
A number of other celebrants in the Bega region expressed similar excitement about being booked for same-sex weddings in the future, with most expecting registration numbers to increase in the lead up to spring.
Changes to the Marriage Law passed Federal Parliament last year after the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 61.6 per cent of people who responded to the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey supported changes to allow same-sex couples to marry.