Out of step laws force weddings to be political

I attended my cousin’s wedding on the weekend and – as they usually are – it was lovely.

With dancing, fancy clothes, flowers, teary speeches, cake, family, friends, bubbly and grand declarations of love all round – not much can go wrong, right?

The one thing that marred it was our ridiculous and out-of-touch Australian Marriage Act.

Yep, I’m talking about the legal requirement that celebrants must say something along the lines of "Marriage is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life".

Every time I’m at a wedding and these words are said, I bristle and shake my head. It seems so out of step with the spirit of the day. I hate that I have to watch people I love doing something that’s supposed to be about unconditional care and acceptance, while having it explicitly pointed out that our marriage laws are still bigoted and exclusionary.

And it’s not just me. Like most people I’ve watched get married in the past few years, the kind, generous and accepting couple getting married on Saturday found a way around the offending passage.

Pausing for effect after saying the above words, the celebrant made it very clear that the bride and groom believed marriage should be able to something shared between any two consenting, loving adults, and that they hoped this would soon be possible.

At other weddings, I’ve heard about people asking guests to cover their ears when that part of the service is read out, and some people are even holding off marriage altogether until its something open to all Australians.

And while these little political acts make my heart sing, I’m angry that they’re necessary. If people are trying to circumvent the marriage laws AT THEIR OWN WEDDINGS, surely it’s well-overdue time for those laws to be changed? – KATE McILWAIN