WARRANDYTE-BASED Marriage Celebrant, Lisa Hunt-Wotton was instrumental in helping Simone Gemmell and Rebecca Lauder become one of the first same-sex couples to legally marry in Australia.
Simone, who attended Warrandyte High School, and Rebecca had been engaged for three years and were six months into planning their commitment ceremony when the same-sex plebiscite was held.
The couple told the Diary how delighted they were when the same-sex marriage bill was finally passed. “This, to us, felt surreal.
“We didn’t think, with all the controversy, that Australia would actually come to the game and when they did it was a feeling like no other.
“We sat on the couch together, drink in hand and just took in what had just happened.”
Rebecca went on to discuss how, prior to the same-sex marriage bill, she experienced frustration in their inability to legally proclaim their commitment to each other.
“It was a constant reminder that we were different… it felt like our wedding, which was important to us, wasn’t as important to others because of the law.”
With the bill set to become law on January 9, Simone, Rebecca and Lisa had a new challenge to encounter, the date they had set for their original commitment ceremony was three days before the law would be passed.
Lisa was determined to make sure the couple could do it right, do it once and do it on the day they had planned to, so the celebrant immediately began studying the law to see if there was any way the women could legally marry before the bill officially came into effect.
“I called the girls and said that there were five reasons why the government would grant a change of date and that I thought they qualified for one of them,” says Lisa.
The couple made multiple trips to Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria and were given a decision on December 21, that they would be legally allowed to marry on January 6.
“It was truly a day we will never forget, a moment of sheer excitement,” the couple told the Diary.
Simone and Rebecca were married by Lisa, in front of all their friends and family, in Panton Hill.
“That day will always be the happiest day of my life, seeing her smile and signing those papers was our special moment for us to always have,” says Simone.
Rebecca added, “I’m the happiest I have ever been and words will never express what the YES vote has done for me, my partner, family, friends and children in the future.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart”.
Photo: Sigrid Petersen Photography