Light at the end of the tunnel: marriage dream looms large
When the final result in the tense, months-long, same-sexmarriage postal survey is handed down this morning, Brisbane radiation therapist Kate Wildermuth will be free of nerves and asleep under a general anaesthetic.
It wasn’t part of the plan but, more than three months after she said “yes” to a marriage proposal from her lawyer partner Kristen Watt, Ms Wildermuth is making her first foray into IVF as the pair plan on having children together.
“It’s the weirdest thing, just another twist of fate,” Ms Wildermuth said.
The couple have been together for more than two years after being introduced by a friend. They began talking about marriage when Ms Watt decided to out-compete her partner on the proposal.
“Being the competitive person I am, I decided to get in first and propose in July, mostly because Kate is an incredibly thoughtful person and does everything for everyone else so I wanted to surprise her,” Ms Watt said. “She cried, I cried — mostly I cried.”
Although the search for equality had always mattered to them — Ms Watt said the couple had been forced to “come out daily” to others — the pair made a decision to get on with things, hoping the Marriage Act would be changed through parliament.
It wasn’t. Just weeks after
they became engaged, the voluntary postal survey was announced as the poor cousin to a mandatory plebiscite, which had stalled in the parliament.
“It wasn’t really until the survey was announced that it hit us, you know, that we realised we’d have to do something about it,” Ms Watt said.
“Because we had each other, Kate and I were more willing to put ourselves out there in terms of being quite vocal in the marriage-equality space and trying to use our own story to personalise the issue.
“We learned that it is conversations with people that really changed minds about things so we took every opportunity we could to have our say and have those respectful conversations with everybody.”
The couple started a “dear neighbour” campaign and wrote to people about their story, encouraging them to get in touch if they intended on voting No. Happily, for them, it worked. “We had a couple of conversations with people who said they were voting No but were happy to talk about it,” Ms Watt said. “In the end, they said: ‘Thanks for having a chat. I’m going to vote Yes now. I just never understood why it is important’.”
While Ms Wildermuth wants to be able to say “this is my wife, Kristen” with full legal backing, there is more at stake. Ms Watt has spent much of this week in hospital.
“It does make you worry, where if you need your partner to make decisions on your health or to speak on your behalf they really need to have the same legal standing that a married couple would have,” Ms Watt said.
“I want to know if I am unwell that Kate is my person, she makes the decision.”
The couple thought about whether it would be fair to bring children into a world in which they would be discriminated against but ultimately decided things would change.
If a majority votes Yes, there will be niggles to iron out in the proposed bills before anything becomes law but Ms Watt hopes common sense will prevail.
“This postal survey felt like all of those fears we once had when we were in high school and dealing with sexuality have been reignited and you’re back in the classroom and the teacher is the Prime Minister who occasionally claps along,” Ms Watt said. “It has been a really interesting part of history and I hope this is the end of it and we get it done.”