I’ve known Katie since I was five years old.
We sat side by side in Mrs Robinson’s grade one class and became instant bosom buddies in that Anne of Green Gables/Diana Barry, Mary Tyler Moore/Rhoda Morgenstern, Laverne De Fazio/Shirley Feeney kind of way.
She was the girl with the sparkly, mischievous eyes. I was the girl whose parents dropped her at school in an orange Leyland P76. Nevertheless, we were united by our love for Leif Garrett and HR Pufnstff.
Since that fateful first meeting, our friendship has gone on to span 40 years.
Primary school, high school, university, first loves, first jobs, first perms, first dates. Last dates. We have seen each other through it all. Katie’s dad being diagnosed with terminal cancer. The stillbirth of my daughter Georgie. My Vegas wedding (and, er, my quickie divorce). Her revelation that she was gay.
There was the year she took me by the shoulders and shook me out of an emotionally abusive relationship. And the time I gently pointed out the long-distance love affair she was in had ended long ago.
And in between all of this we talked of love. Finding it. Keeping it. Losing it. Screwing it up. The times it was unrequited. The times our hearts were smashed up, so bruised we thought we’d never recover. We despaired some days of ever meeting ‘the one’. We wondered and pondered and worried and stressed about whether we would ever find someone who would truly love us. Get us. Cherish the weird, stupid, foolish bits we so often tried to hide from the world. We talked about babies. And weddings. And houses by the beach. And raising kids who would be best friends and love the Counting Crows’ August and Everything After album as much as we did.
When I met and married my husband Brad, Katie stood next to me and cheered me on as though the wedding was her own.
And then she met Sascha. And I knew.
I knew from the first time I heard the way Katie’s voice changed, softened, floated when she first mentioned Sascha’s name.
Listen: If only Malcolm Turnbull had said this... (Post continues after audio.)
I knew from the photos I saw. Their eyes. Their smiles. That look someone has when finally they are truly themselves, comfortable in their own skin. Loved unconditionally.
I knew from the moment I saw them together in person. That zing you feel when you’re around two people who are gloriously happy and in love.
I knew that she was it. The person. The great love Katie had longed and hoped and dreamt about since we were five years old.
And I cannot imagine a more perfect love, best friend, companion for my best friend.
Four years ago Katie and Sasch married on a day when both sides of politics chose to stand on the wrong side of history. They married on a day when the entire Brisbane sky behaved like it was auditioning for a storybook – all brilliant blue, shimmery and cloudless. And in an inner-city park that was bustling with picnics and kites and cricket matches amongst mates – 150 of Katie and Sasch’s friends and family and dozens and dozens of complete strangers who happened to be in the park that day stood around these two women, to witness Katie and Sasch say “I do”. To bloody well cheer them on.
Because for Katie and Sasch marriage is about more than ‘the law’. It’s about community and accountability and they wanted to take the opportunity to make themselves accountable for their relationship with the people they love. And while they’ll keep advocating for marriage equality, for them the greatest advocacy activity they could undertake was to go ahead and have a wedding to show they believe marriage is important and valid.
Watching my daughter Ava and Katie’s niece Ella act as flower girls, giggling and whispering and waving as they carried a bunch of candy store coloured balloons down the aisle is a moment I will cherish. Watching Katie – her face beaming with joy – walk down the aisle on her mother’s arm towards the love of her life was one of the truly great days of my life.
Because she bloody did it. In this cynical, tricky old world, Katie found that big love we all want. One that is true and real and good.
One day in the not too distant future I hope our politicians will feel foolish and small-minded and, frankly, ashamed for acting as though this great love, this marriage between two women who adore each other is somehow not real. Not worthy.
Because I was there. I have seen it with my own eyes.
And let me tell you, Katie is awesome. And so is her wife.
The Marriage Equality Pledge
By Katie Greenwood and Sascha Piggott
Between now and when Australia achieves Marriage Equality, I pledge I will:
- Enrol to vote (if I am not already) and encourage others to enrol asap. (You can do that here)
- NOT boycott the vote. Yes, this vote hurts and it may not even be legal, but we need to show up in overwhelming numbers to support a positive outcome for Marriage Equality so I will vote and I will encourage others not to boycott.
- Use the phrase Marriage Equality instead of same-sex or gay marriage. This is a far more inclusive way to discuss the issue.
- Check in with my LGBTIQ family, friends and acquaintances to see if they are ok. This debate isn’t kind and people’s resilience and mental health is already suffering. Just knowing people care enough to check-in is awesome
- If I have the ability, donate to LGBTIQ causes and/or to specific coalitions working on supporting a positive outcome for Marriage Equality. (Some include StartOut, AustraliansforEquality and GetUp!)
- Sign this petition for a free vote on Marriage Equality in the Parliament:
- Be brave. I will respectfully challenge when I hear people say Marriage Equality is not cool or something we shouldn’t have in Australia. I will not allow fact-free, bigoted conversations to happen. I will shut down hate speech and respectfully challenge ideas; on the bus, online and within my family and friendship circles. But when those who oppose go low, I will stay high. We can’t give in to hate.
- Critically evaluate the question put to us when we get to vote on Marriage Equality – because I just know the current Government will try to skew this towards defeat somehow. I will make sure I know I am voting FOR Marriage Equality and make sure my friends know too.
- Write to my MP’s and Senators; better yet if I can I will call them and better than that, I will show up in person to chat about why Marriage Equality is important to me and why we should have a free vote in the Parliament to achieve it. I will tell them why even if the postal vote comes back with a negative response, they should keep working on Marriage Equality.
- Thank people who are actively supporting and advocating for Marriage Equality – especially our politicians. Everyone needs affirmation and encouragement for playing their part.
- Speak to the people in my street, neighbourhood, church, teams, workplace and community about this issue and engage them in a positive discussion about voting FOR Marriage Equality. I will share stories of friends and family members who are affected by this and why it matters deeply to them and to us as a nation.
- Check in with LGBTIQ friends and ask if I can share their stories on social media. I know that the political is personal and if people currently sitting on the fence can just see how this affects real human lives, they might be persuaded to help get this done
- Share this pledge far and wide and advocate for others to share it too