As same-sex couple Jackie and Shayne declared their love and commitment to one another in front of a crowd on a recent Saturday in Koroit, Jackie’s mother and burly farm blokes alike shed tears of joy.
The ceremony took the form of a traditional Irish hand-fasting ceremony, with six coloured ribbons draped over their hands by their best friends, mums and sisters to symbolise the moment.
The publican at Mickey Bourke’s Hotel in Koroit, where the ceremony was held, rang a bell to declare the couple “hitched”.
The couple decided to hold the ceremony because their families were getting older.
“It was more beautiful than we could ever have anticipated,” Jackie said.
“We had such a sense of love and belonging with those who are important to us.
“The only thing that was missing was that piece of paper that everyone else can have making it legally binding and legitimate.”
The couple has been together for four years, living together in a cottage in the “welcoming” community of Koroit for the past two.
Jackie and Shayne attend Country Women’s Association (CWA) meetings and are in the process of becoming accredited foster carers.
Their ceremony, on Saturday August 5, took place as same-sex marriage was back in the spotlight, with the prospect of a conscience vote stirred up by a bill proposed by Liberal Senator Dean Smith.
A Liberal Party meeting held on Monday last week led to the establishment of a postal plebiscite through the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Jackie said she was concerned about the impact the vote would have on the LGBTI community, and also by the fact it was non-binding.
“Even if it does come back an overwhelming yes for same-sex marriage, we still have to hope that all our representatives will be allowed a free vote and not just toe the party line,” she said.
Jackie said there are reminders that she can’t marry the person she loves. She described a moment at her best friend’s “beautiful” wedding last year.
“I felt myself stiffen, along with others, when their celebrant, forced to by law, had to make the announcement that only a man and a woman may legally marry,” she said.
Despite missing out on the “bit of paper” they hope they will be able to pick up in the next few years, the couple feel overwhelmed by love and have many special people in their lives.
Jackie said in the days after they made their commitment, Shayne was reduced to tears when Jackie’s sister referred to her as “sister-in-law”.
“As lovely as it is, we are not in law,” Jackie said.