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Same Sex-Marriage but now I can not Divorce
Date 02-27-2017 | Views  465

I didn't used to want to get married, so marriage equality for me was something I wanted to happen on principle rather than on a personal level. Then I met someone and fell in love and, for whatever reason, getting married seemed like a wonderful thing to do.

We eloped to New Zealand a week after they passed the laws on same-sex marriage. The people working in the marriage office were cutely smug about how much more progressive New Zealand was than Australia. I made some quip about how if you were to be better at something, rugby and human rights weren't bad choices. 

 

 

We were very much about our marriage being something between just us, that we defined. All of you, all of the time, for always, were the words spoken. We got married on a clifftop with a panoramic view. We drove around the south island for a couple of weeks before coming home to Australia. It was all very beautiful, until it wasn't. She left me for one of my closest friends whilst I was overseas. It was horrific.

Googling exactly how you get divorced from an unrecognised overseas marriage was a masochistic experience that I put off for a little while. 

The thing is, you can't. Anyone can get married in New Zealand, but to get a divorce at least one of you must be domiciled there, which means you have to live there in a convincing way. In Australia, you can't get divorced from a marriage that isn't recognised because there is nothing to divorce from. I also have a British passport, which seemed hopeful given they recognise same-sex marriage. However, in the UK, both of you must be domiciled to get a divorce. 

It seems, at this stage, short of moving to New Zealand, this marriage really is forever. Or at least until same sex marriage is legislated for in Australia. If we get our timing right, we could potentially be one of the first same sex divorces in Australia's history. 

 


But for now, this leaves us squarely in the Tasman. 

For example, if one of us chooses to marry a man in Australia, Australia would let us but New Zealand could potentially prosecute us for bigamy. If I fall for a charming Kiwi of any gender who is desperate for me to marry into the family, I can't. 

By marrying a same sex partner overseas, I have essentially now forfeited my right to marry at all. 

It may look like I didn't really think this one through, but it feels like no one else did either. Although NZ is the good guy in all this, they were very quick to advertise; themselves as a same-sex marriage destination, without footnoting divorce requirements. Sure love knows no gender, but neither does acrimony, believe me #divorceequality.

Equality in this regard, is as evenly spread as an unloved sandwich and so there will always be people like me who fall through the gaps. Since the discrimination is on the basis of legal gender and legal gender is something that can change, even more complications can arise. 

Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. Certain unions are not marriages. A union solemnised in a foreign country between: (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman; must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.

A 'trans forced divorce' is a divorce between two people who are M and F on their birth certificates but one person wishes to change their gender marker, and so they cannot legally remain married. 

This issue is not something that should be shouted about loudly on TV. This is not something that will be healthy for youth already doubting whether or not there is a place for them n this world. A marriage equality plebiscite along with its associated campaigns will not be healthy for queer youth to live through. Society already holds a death toll on this issue. When you are part of a queer community, everyone knows someone, close or connected to them, that has taken their own life. 

Marriages don't have to be a certain way. Some will be poly, some will be dysfunctional, some will be ugly, some will be great. They don't have to appear to be something that conservative eyes are comfortable with. We are not all the same but we do live, love and f--- up just like everyone else. Not being granted the legal rights to do so equitably is unjust and I don't even think it's something we should have to ask for. 

 


 

Sydney Morning Herald Full Article