Cou­ple re­alise wed­ding dream

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - By DENISE S. CAHILL See Opin­ion, page 9

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.”

Main pic­ture: Linda Dun­jey

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.

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