Couple realise wedding dream
KELLY and Sam Pilgrim-byrne were married at midnight on Monday – five days after their 24th anniversary.
The Southern River couple, who met while working at Silver Chain, legally said “I do” on the steps of Parliament House in front of family, friends – and celebrant Terry Healy – who is also Southern River MLA.
Midnight was the earliest opportunity for same-sex couples to wed after changes to the Marriage Act.
Their 10-year-old daughter Charlotte Pilgrim-byrne summed up what it meant for her parents to marry: “It’s another way of saying I love you forever”.
Charlotte is the reason the Parliamentary entrance was chosen as the marriage venue; Kelly and Sam spent a lot of time on those steps protesting the right for gay couples to access fertility treatment and to adopt.
“We chose the steps of Parliament House to have our ceremony because we spent quite a lot of time at Parliament when we were fighting for legislation changes in WA,” Kelly said.
“On the night the Acts Amendment (Gay and Lesbian Law Reform) Act 2002 passed Parlia- ment, we sat in the public gallery for the allnight sitting and walked out into the morning daylight feeling WA had changed for the better and we were witnesses to this historic moment.
“It seems fitting to return to Parliament House as one of the first same-sex couples in WA to now celebrate another historic moment for LGBTI people with our own wedding.”
The couple, whose journey to have a child was followed in the media, registered for fertility treatment almost as soon as the legislation passed. After 45 cycles of IUI and IVF between them over four years, Sam gave birth to Charlotte on September 26, 2007.
Charlotte was with her parents at Northbridge Piazza when the results of the same-sex marriage vote was announced on November 15.
“I was photographing the crowd’s reaction through my own tears of relief and joy,” Kelly said.
“I briefed Charlotte prior that I wouldn’t be able to cuddle Sam when the result was announced because I would be photographing, so could she be sure to cuddle her extra-tight for me.
“As it was announced I glanced down at the stage to see Charlotte wrap her arms around Sam in a tight embrace, which only made the tears flow faster.”
Kelly and Sam lodged their notice of intended marriage with Births, Deaths and Marriages on Saturday, December 9.
The wedding was a dream they never thought would become reality in WA.
“To be honest, I never thought we’d be able to marry in our lifetime,” Kelly said.
“It wasn’t even a consideration when we first got together; quite the opposite in fact.
“We have always known that our relationship wasn’t considered equal to others and as such we legally changed our surname in 2004 because it was our way – the only way available to us at the time – of symbolically claiming each other as ‘coupled’ and somehow legitimising our commitment to one another.
“Changing all of our documents to our new ‘family’ name was incredibly affirming.
“After 24 years together, being able to actually get married and have everyone recognise it as legal is a dream come true and we are deeply thankful to the people who fought so hard to make this happen.”
Above: Kelly and Sam celebrated their marriage with daughter Charlotte Pilgrim-byrne. Top right: Sam and Kelly with baby Charlotte. Below right: Toddler Charlotte plays in puddles.