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WA politician Stephen Dawson heads to Canberra for 'trailblazing' marriage

West Australian politician Stephen Dawson (right) and partner Dennis Liddelow.

West Australian politician Stephen Dawson (right) and partner Dennis Liddelow.

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.

10 comments

  • Congratulations Stephen and Dennis. You're obviously a committed couple and I wish you all the best! Why marriage isn't an option for all loving couples around Australia I'll never know.

    Commenter
    Benj
    Location
    Perth
    Date and time
    December 06, 2013, 12:17PM
    • A rose by any other name is still a rose.Too much legal red tape as it is.Hand fast is all people need,and a good business sense.

      Commenter
      Kane
      Date and time
      December 06, 2013, 12:28PM
      • Good on you guys,
        I wish you both well, how could anyone discriminate against two people in love wanting to get married.

        Commenter
        Joe
        Location
        Perth
        Date and time
        December 06, 2013, 12:43PM
        • With so much conflict and war around the world (most due to religion), it is shocking that the conservative religious minority in Australia is preventing two people who love each other from marrying.
          Dennis and Stephen congratulations! Best wishes for a wonderful weekend and long loving lives together!

          Commenter
          Lagom
          Location
          Perth
          Date and time
          December 06, 2013, 2:14PM
          • @Lagom, why purport a myth?

            Religion is not the primary cause of wars around the world. In fact, according to the Encyclopedia of Wars (Phillips and Axelrod), of the 1,763 major conflicts in recorded history, only 123 of them can be classified as having been fought over religious differences. That’s less than 7 percent.

            Commenter
            Matt
            Location
            Perth
            Date and time
            December 06, 2013, 5:46PM
        • Love, Love, love great to see. All the best boys.

          Commenter
          seamus
          Location
          Canberra
          Date and time
          December 06, 2013, 2:20PM
          • Go for it, chaps, and more power to you both! But really, "official" marriage? sanctioned by the state or church marriage? Who gives a toss? That's about as relevant in the 21st century as knighthoods, bear pits and... "the" church.

            Commenter
            Max Gross
            Location
            Sapphire Coast
            Date and time
            December 06, 2013, 2:57PM
            • Mr Dawson states: “We face many challenges, including an intolerant society that is prepared to judge and not accept...."

              That is a broad, judgmental sweeping statement in its own right.

              So by challenging, then changing the Marriage Act you think you can force people to accept you into society at large. Forcing people to accept your behaviour is not egalitarianism, rather it is totalitarianism.

              Nothing less than the ultimate democratic authority of a referendum would validate transforming the institution of marriage that most intimately affects every person in Australia.

              Commenter
              Matt
              Location
              Perth
              Date and time
              December 06, 2013, 5:07PM
              • But thats just it matt, it does not affect every person. Only those who wish to marry, cannot and hopefully soon will. There will always be those who don't get married, or have children out of wedlock, or get married but stay childless. I truly fail to see how allowing consenting couples who are of legal age to marry will impact anyone, other than the wedding goods and service industry who may see an increase in business.

                And with the divorce rate among hetros, they may even raise the institution of marriage again. Who knows?

                Commenter
                bridgetkgw
                Date and time
                December 06, 2013, 6:30PM
                • The will always have the wedding photos but not a Legitimate Wedding licence that will be cancelled when the high court finds the ACT state laws are out of tune with the federal laws that cover marriage

                  Commenter
                  Adam and Steve Not Eve
                  Location
                  Cockburn
                  Date and time
                  December 06, 2013, 7:19PM
                  Comments are now closed
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