A Sunshine Coast woman with terminal cancer and her partner have been revealed as the first Australian same-sex couple to legally marry.
The marriage between Jo Grant and Jill Kindt was held on December 15 and was allowed to proceed without the usual 30-day waiting period because Jo was terminally ill with a rare form of cancer.
The pair had been together for eight years and held a commitment ceremony in 2013 but very much wanted to get married, desperately aware that Jo’s time was running out.
Just a week after the passage of marriage equality, the couple held a marriage ceremony in front of family and friends in the garden of their beachside property at Coolum.
Jo, who had defied the expectations of her doctors, sadly passed away on January 30 after 48 days of being legally married.
Jill said was sharing their story for Jo and to thank the staff whose “incredible” effort allowed their legal marriage to happen in “just over 24 hours.”
“We did it because we wanted to make legal something that we did a while ago,” she said.
“Jo gave a speech when we got married on December 15 and it was all about community, as well as our relationship.
“We were overwhelmed and humbled by the fact that people who did not know us made something happen that we wanted to happen, and gave us so much joy.
“All of these people just went the extra mile to make that happen.”
Jill said they had considered each other to be spouses ever since their “promise day” in March 2013.
“A friend of ours took on the role of celebrant and we said what we needed to say in front of our family and friends,” she said.
But the couple’s medical journey over the last two years had been on had demonstrated the necessity of a legal marriage, Jill explained.
“We had to continually define and explain our relationship through the different hospitals,” she said.
“People on the ground were wonderful, nurses, doctors… but perhaps the bureaucracy wasn’t there.
“I was filling out a form in the emergency place one day and I couldn’t tick what I wanted to tick, and people stopping you from going in a place.
“No one questions a marriage certificate, which I have found out since.”
Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath shared the couple’s story in the parliament on Wednesday, as Jill, Jo’s parents and the couple’s celebrant watched on from the public gallery.
Ms D’Ath said Jo and Jill were approved, married, and registered all in one day, after the Registrar at the Nambour courthouse ruled on the couple’s exceptional circumstances.
She said the registry staff went to “extraordinary lengths” to make the historic marriage happen quickly.
“The extraordinary staff at Births, Deaths and Marriages went one step further, determmined to deliver the marriage certificates immediately,” she said.
“A team member met the celebrant half way between Brisbane and the northern beaches, pulling over at a roadside servo to deliver the precious paperwork.
“Jo was very frail but you see the love between these two people [in their wedding photos] and in one shot Jo’s arms raised triumphantly as she and Jill laugh.
“Jo’s mum Sandra believes the marriage renewed Jo’s spirit, keeping her alive long enough to have one last Christmas with her family.”
Jo and Jill were one of 159 same sex couples who have been married in Queensland since the marriage equality laws were passed, D’Ath said.
Another 70 have been booked in with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages before the end of the year.
(Photo by Marion Jonkers Photography)