lifestyle

Australian same-sex couples are tying the knot in New Zealand.

For these Australians, marriage equality is only four hours away.

Melbourne couple Sarah-Jane Dessmann and Natasha Horvat have joined hundreds of other lesbian and gay Australians choosing to celebrate their nuptials in nearby New Zealand.

“We got tired of waiting for Australia to legalise it,” Dessmann tells Mamamia.

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Sarah and Natasha on their wedding day. Image: Supplied.

The couple were holidaying in the country to celebrate the eight-year anniversary of their relationship when they spontaneously decided to tie the knot.

“We were best friends and we fell in love with each other,” Dessman explains.

“Essentially, we just wanted to celebrate our relationship.”

Marriage equality was legislated in New Zealand just over two years ago. Since then an estimated 500 same-sex Australian couples have been married there.

“We have been together for eight years, we definitely would have been married if it was legal in Australia, and we believe everyone should be given the opportunity to marry the person they love,” Dessman says.

“It’s not for the Government to tell people who they can love.”

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Sarah says that governments do not decide who people love. Image: Supplied.
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Despite claiming to support same-sex marriage and previously lamenting Liberal Party members not being allowed a free-vote on the issue, since achieving the Prime Ministership Malcolm Turnbull has adopted the conservative stance of his predecessor.

In one of his first acts in the top job, Turnbull renounced his previous commitment on the issue and opted instead to stick with Tony Abbott’s plan for a plebiscite.

It was a move that Opposition Leader Bill Shorten described as an “expensive delaying tactic… a cynical attempt by marriage equality opponents to sink reform” — and one that comes in spite of a majority of Australians saying they are in favour of marriage equality.

“You’re always going to have people who don’t support it,” Dessman says.

“People will move on. It’s blatantly discrimination against same-sex couples because we can’t see our relationship as different to any others.”

“It is sad that our legal system doesn’t realise it and we found New Zealand very refreshing. No one flinched, people where genuinely surprise that it’s not legal here.”

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People in New Zealand were “genuinely surprised” that same-sex marriage is still illegal here. Image: Supplied.
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When politicians malign same-sex unions, they send the message to young people — whether intentionally or not — that anything outside of the heterosexual norm is unacceptable.

In Australia, LGBTQI young people suffer disproportionately high levels of psychological distress than their straight peers and are up to six times more likely to attempt suicide.

Dessman says that she has never had mental health issues and wants to share her story to show just how normal it is.

“We’re passionate about this because we’re happy. It is so absurd to us — I am happy just going to home to Natasha every night,” she says.

“And it’s just bizarre that it’s a topic of discussion at the moment in politics.”

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At the end of the day it’s about being open to love. Image: Supplied.

She says that the crux of the issue comes down to being open to falling in love, regardless of gender.

“There’s only two people in the relationship and as long as we’re making each other happy nothing else matters,” she says.

“We genuinely think, we’re best friends and we’re soulmates… if we can help people by sharing our story, that’s what we’re willing to do.

“I joke to Tash when we go to bed every night there is no one else in the room, we’re going to sleep happy.”

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