A lesbian couple from the Gold Coast have created history by becoming the first same-sex partners in Australia to “marry” under the Evermore Pledge.
Carly Naughton, 31, and Alee Fogarty, 28, exchanged vows under the auspices of the Evermore Pledge, an agreement which gives couples all the legal privileges of a traditional marriage, such as power of attorney, next of kin, assets, investments and beneficiaries.
While the pledge cannot be legally called a marriage under the Marriage Act, it is the closest thing same-sex couples can have to replicating a marriage, according to celebrant Michelle Anderson.
Ms Anderson said she came up with the pledge after debating with her partner, Greg, about why people wanted to get married.
She said the pledge wasn’t the answer to the same-sex marriage debate, but it was a solid temporary solution that was more than a commitment ceremony.
For the “newlyweds”, the legal package behind the marriage celebration meant they now felt more secure in their future.
Carly and Alee, who have one child and another on the way, pledged to stay with each other forever in front of their friends and family last Saturday.
“Initially, we were obviously more concerned with the legal side of things,” Carly told PinkNews.
“We didn’t do this so we could have our ‘special day’ as such and it was so rushed (it all was planned in three weeks!) that when it finally came to the day we were so anxious and a bit worried about how it would all go.
“Of course, I have always wanted my big day, but it really wasn’t the priority here.”
But that all changed on the day, Carly said, when her mother helped her into her wedding gown.
“Seeing her cry is a moment I won’t ever forget,” she said. “The second we arrived at (the venue) Peppers Soul, the reality dawned on us and we became that soppy couple.
“It was perfect. Every little detail was so beautiful.”
Carly said that the most important part of the ceremony was that it had a huge impact on her and Alee’s lives together.
“We really wanted to ensure that we secure our futures – not only for us, but our children,” she said.
“We’ve always been terrified of what would happen to the other should one of us become incapacitated or pass away.
“We’ve heard horror stories of long-term partners being turned away at hospitals as they weren’t considered ‘immediate family,’ or of people dying, then their family shunning and banning the partner at the funeral because they never actually accepted their gay child and wouldn’t respect their final wishes.”
Carly said she “definitely had/have hopes that same-sex marriage will be legal at some point in my lifetime, but I didn’t see it happening anytime soon”.
So, she continued, “when we learned of The Evermore Pledge, we were really happy to find something that gave us the legal rights we really wanted in a tidy, easy-to-understand, little package.
“I still do hope marriage equality is passed soon. Even if we don’t end up getting married, I want to know I’m viewed as equal in the government’s eyes.”
Senior advocate David Dudderidge, of Nevile and Co. Commercial Lawyers, said they were excited to have played a part in bringing the Evermore Pledge to the gay and lesbian community.
“We’re more than happy to be involved, it’s always an important area,” he said.
“It’s an important issue that needs to be dealt with. Being gay and lesbian doesn’t mean you need to be treated differently.”
Mr Dudderidge said the pledge was not creating any legal rights that didn’t already exist, but the services were packaged together so there would be a similar feeling to being married.
The Evermore Pledge cost ranges from $1999 to $6999 depending on the package.
(Picture: Kaitlin Maree Photography)