Lesbian wedding photo sparks marriage equality debate
When Lisa Bentley and Melissa McMurray sent their commitment ceremony photos in to Queensland newspaper The Sunday Mail hoping to be featured in the newspaper’s wedding section, they half expected not to see their snaps appear at all.
But to their surprise, they had become the first same-sex couple to be featured in the wedding section, although it was their photographer who spotted the photo and rang to tell Bentley and McMurray the great news.
"I ripped down to the shop and woke Melissa up to show her... that was the first time we found out," Bentley told 612 ABC Brisbane's Emma Griffiths.
"I'm pretty chuffed and we're the first and that's our claim to fame now."
McMurray said they didn't think they had a chance of having their story and photo appear in the newspaper. "We thought it was a long shot but sent our story and picture anyway," she said on social media. "We were absolutely thrilled to wake up to see ourselves in the paper, with the big picture no less!
"Thank you to our wonderful friends and family and The Sunday Mail for helping us celebrate OUR day in the most normal way," she said.
The couple hopes that the image will at least be talked about and bring some awareness back to the issue of marriage equality in Australia.
According to Australian Marriage Equality, a national organisation which campaigns for equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, 72 per cent of all Australians believe that same-sex couples have the right to marry.
This is the highest level of support marriage equality has ever received in Australia, and the lowest level of opposition.
Bentley hopes that the photo with her partner in The Sunday Mail will get people talking about the debate once more.
"I think it's opened up the door for conversation," Bentley said. "Whether it's positive or negative it means that it's on the tip of people's tongues, and people will start hearing different views.
"I really think it's going to start pushing us in the right direction and in the right places."
It seems that the issue of marriage equality in Australia has been put back on the table, too, with Tasmania just last week becoming the third state to give support to same-sex marriage.
Liberal minister Jeremy Rockliff was one of the 15 out of 24 people who voted in favour of equality.
"I really welcome the opportunity to express my views for the first time publicly, and I'm absolutely unequivocally in favour of same-sex marriage equality and I have been for some years now," Rockliff said.
Australia is only one of a few developed countries that still hasn't taken action to allow same-sex marriage.
Countries like Canada, Spain, South Africa, Argentina and the United States all have marriage equality laws in place.
But for Bentley and McMurray, it's not a political issue. They just want to have the choice to express themselves in the same way other couples do.
"It's not a political thing, it's just two people who love each other regardless of what they do when they get home."