After 33 years, Tura Beach couple Rose Harris and Lily Hart have finally tied the knot.
On Sunday afternoon, the couple exchanged vows on the beach just a short walk from their home, becoming the first same-sex couple in the Bega Valley to wed.
They had a simple celebration at their home with a close circle of family and friends, which they described as less of a wedding and more of an “elopement at home”.
As a retired lawyer, Ms Harris said that from a legal perspective, it was fantastic for same sex couples to be able to wed.
“We’ve been together for over three decades, so we already feel like we are married,” she said.
“Our relationship isn’t any different, but now we have the legal recognition and protection that marriage brings.”
Ms Hart said that same-sex marriages would set a new norm.
“Gay relationships are now recognised as what they are, which is equal, and that is worth celebrating,” she said.
They both acknowledged all the people who campaigned and rallied for marriage equality and made their union possible.
They also thanked the people of the Eden-Monaro region for returning a majority “yes” vote in the same-sex marriage postal survey.
“It was a fantastic feeling when the result came through, we were in the lounge room watching the TV and we just hugged and cried,” Ms Harris said.
“It means people like us, ordinary people, can now be married.”
Sunday was also a special day for local civil celebrant Christine Kaine. Ms Harris and Ms Hart’s wedding was her first same-sex marriage.
“It was just fabulous, I really felt like I was a part of the monumental cultural shift that is going on in our country at the moment,” she said.
“I really believe this isn’t about marriage, it’s about equality.”
Ms Kaine is in communication with four more same-sex couples who are planning weddings with her this year.
“It’s very exciting, for this to finally happen for these couples, and for me to help them, it’s very meaningful to me,” she said.
As the first to take place in the Bega Valley, Ms Hart and Ms Harris know their wedding will draw attention, but they hope that one day same-sex marriage won’t be considered novel.
“A love story is a love story, but I hope in the future gay weddings won’t be the big story they are now, they will just be another, everyday occurrence,” Ms Hart said.
“I’m glad it has happened and we can finally catch up with the rest of the world.”