#5DaysOfEquality interview: The first same-sex couple married in Australia

GLAAD talked to Alan and Joel Player, the first couple to be married in Canberra, after the Australian Capital Territory legalized marriage equality. Between December 7-12, GLAAD is joining thousands of people around the world to wish a happy anniversary to the 31 couples married during Australia's #5DaysOfEquality. These marriages happened during the brief window of December 7-12, 2013, but were later nullified by Australia's High Court.

Help us wish them a happy anniversary by posting on social media, using the hashtag #5DaysOfEquality. Your message of love and support will be transcribed into a custom card created by Smudge Ink to be delivered to one of the couples. Learn more about how you can participate in #5DaysOfEquality.

Tell us about your relationship. How did you meet? How long have you been together?

I received a promotion for the company I was working for at the time which required me to move from the country town I was living to Canberra. I was researching share accommodation in the Canberra area and Joel had advertised that he and his housemate had a room available to rent after their housemate had moved out. I responded to his advertisement and commenced speaking on the phone and via email a few weeks before I moved. After a couple of weeks of living together the relationship started when we realized we had feelings developing for each other and wanted to be with each other. We have been together now for about 8 years. 

What was your first thought when you heard that marriage would be legalized? Did you aspire to be the first couple married in Australia?

Joel and I were excited that we were able to finally be able to marry. Although our marriage would only be recognized in the Australian Central Territory, it was bitter sweet.  However, it was an exciting time, that for the first time we were able to call each other our husband and actually legally mean it. There was no intention to become the first same sex couple to marry in Australia. The whole thing came about from our celebrant, Sharyn Gunn. She performed our commitment ceremony in September 2009, where she promised that the minute we were able to legally marry, she would officiate our marriage. A promise she was committed to keeping.

What were you feeling when the marriages were cut off?  What about when they were nullified?  

Joel was unable to attend the hearing due to work commitments, but I was sitting in the High Court when the ruling was handed down, along with several other couples who had married. I think deep down we all knew what the ruling was going to be. I was feeling a mixture of emotions ranging from anxiety and fear. Hearing the words that our marriages, from a legal standing, never occurred was heart wrenching. To go from the high of 5 days earlier celebrating what we thought we would not have ever been able for many years, to the realization that Australia still refuses to recognize our relationship was an emotional roller coaster.

What are your thoughts on how quickly out slowly marriage equality is coming to Australia?

It is frustrating for us how much further behind Australia is falling compared to the rest of the world. The latest opinion polls conducted has shown that 72% of Australians are in favour of Marriage Equality. While we respect the Prime Minister and other members of parliament are entitled to their beliefs on marriage, they have been voted to represent the public. The vast majority of the public want this reform, yet they refuse to act. The Prime Minster refuses to allow members of the Liberal Party to have a conscience vote on the matter. He stated that if a bill was put forward it would then be a matter for the party room. As recent as last week, he has advised that the bill that was entered into the Senate, there would be no party room discussion. 

Further frustrations come from the fact that the far right Christian organizations, such as the Australian Christian Lobby, who claim to represent all Christians in Australia have a huge influence in political matters. They have been condemned by many Christians as not representing their views. As someone who is an atheist, someone who does not have any doubt that no such thing as a god exists, it is infuriating that I am forced to not to be able to marry the person I love, based on what others believe in.

Happy anniversary, fellas! Check out the rest of Alan and Joel's wedding photos (provided by the couple):

#5DaysOfEquality is a part of the GLAAD Global Voices program, which aims to build support for LGBT equality across the globe by sharing culture-changing stories of LGBT people and families in American and international media.