West Australian politician Stephen Dawson (right) and partner Dennis Liddelow.
- Couples racing to the ACT to marry
- On the threshold of making history
- The ACT's battle for same-sex marriage
Western Australian politician Stephen Dawson will be among those making history in Australia this weekend as he marries his long term partner Dennis Liddelow in Canberra.
The WA State Labor MLC and his partner will arrive in Canberra on Friday night, joining a small group of family and friends outside Parliament House for the 12.01am ceremony conducted under the ACT's same-sex marriage law.
Mr Dawson said the choice of venue was deliberate in the hope of sending a message to the Federal Government.
“Dennis and I are both quite private people when it comes to our relationship,” he said.
“We thought long and hard, not so much about getting married, but about making an issue of the fact that we’re doing this. We think everybody should have this right.”
Mr Dawson described the legislation by the ACT Government as “trailblazing” in allowing him and his partner to have their relationship recognised two years after their civil ceremony overseas.
“Dennis and I actually had a civil union in Ireland a few years ago,” he said.
“But a civil union is not marriage and a civil union in Ireland is not a marriage in Australia.”
Mr Dawson said he and Mr Liddelow, who have been together for almost 11 years, had long been discussing the potential changes to the laws and whether they would take advantage of them.
“The answer was absolutely,” he said.
The pair will be among many same-sex couples expected to take advantage of the law this weekend.
However their marriages may be short-lived as the High Court of Australia will rule on the constitutionality of the law on Thursday.
Though the unions may not be recognised in a week’s time, Mr Dawson said the ACT was making great strides ahead of other states and territories.
“At the moment in Western Australia, obviously there are no marriage equality laws,” he said,
“Many states and territories around Australia have been waiting for the feds and that didn’t happen.”
Mr Dawson said he would support changes to marriage laws in Western Australia, something he highlighted during his inaugural speech given in June.
“I am proud of the progress made in the past 10 years, but we still have a long way to go until everyone is treated the same in this state and country,” he told parliament.
“We face many challenges, including an intolerant society that is prepared to judge and not accept. But we will accept and stay true to the dream that we hold in our hearts.”
Mr Dawson also used the opportunity to pay tribute to his soon-to-be husband.
“You challenge me, you console me, but most of all you love me,” he said.