Two people stand on the beach. One is wearing a black and white dress and the other is wearing a white dress. They are laughing.


Five stories of a marriage


I’m 18 and I’m in my first year at university. It’s my second semester and I feel terrible.

I’ve been battling recurring throat infections. My on again, off again boyfriend is being very off. My best friend got a call from a childhood friend asking to hang out, but I haven’t heard from her since then. Worst of all, my mother has caught wind of my current frustration and is insisting on driving up from our hometown to see me.

Then my best friend turns up at my door with her childhood friend, Desiree. She’s quiet and very pretty.

Suddenly, I feel less miserable.


Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, spearheads a massive civil disobedience where he allows same-sex couples to marry even though it isn’t legal. People flock from around the United States to solemnise their marriages. They line up around the block from City Hall in a queue that looks more like a dance party.

As this happens, Desiree and I are celebrating our three-year anniversary. I pull together a bit of spare cash and buy an inexpensive ring from a vendor at my university markets. After all, it seems like equality is just around the corner.

She says yes.


We decide to move to Australia. Desiree’s dad is Australian, and it seems like an exciting adventure. Only for a couple years, right? (Twelve years later, we’ll still be here.)

I’m still waiting for my visa when Desiree goes to Sydney to start her study. For three months, we live on separate continents. We make do with World of Warcraft and MSN Messenger, but I miss having her next to me in bed.

I also miss her tendency to do the dishes.

When I fly to Australia, I am so afraid that things will be awkward between us, but as soon as I see her, it’s like we were never apart.


One morning, I turn to my wife and say, “I’m tired of waiting for the law. Maybe we should just get married anyway.”

We set a date – our ten year anniversary of being together, and the seven year anniversary of our engagement. We have the wedding in Hawaii because it’s halfway between our chosen home of Sydney and our hometown of Seattle.

Friends and family converge on a rented mansion on Oahu’s North Shore. We get married under a light sprinkling rain and take photos on the beach while locals and tourists walk past.


It’s two weeks after the postal vote has been announced and I’m exhausted. I’m so tired of seeing marriages like mine lambasted in the media, and I’m worried for the young people I work with at Twenty10.

“Don’t they know we’re already getting married anyway?” I complain as we run a weekend errand.

“Let’s go to Newtown and get ice cream,” she says.

So we park the car at the train station and head in. We walk down Enmore Road and get weird gelato flavours from Cow and Moon. We poke in and out of shops, just laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

Suddenly, I feel less miserable.

(photo by Terra Photography)

6 months ago