What a way to ring in the new year! A number of same-sex couples in Australia said “I do” just after midnight on Tuesday, Jan. 9, in celebration of the nation’s overwhelming Parliamentary vote in December to legalize gay marriage.
In Australia, it is required of all couples hoping to marry to provide one month’s notice of their intention to marry, making Tuesday the first day that couples could officially exchange vows at the altar.
(The notice period was waived for some couples who have married in recent weeks, on account of exceptional circumstances including a partner’s terminal illness and overseas-based relatives booking flights to Australia before the official start date for the new law was known.)
“It’s another way to show your love and appreciation of your partner in front of the people in your life,” 29-year-old sprinter Craig Burns told The Associated Press of his wedding to partner Luke Sullivan.
Another couple, Kelly and Sam Pilgrim-Byrne, legalized their 24-year lesbian relationship in a midnight ceremony on the steps of the Western Australia state legislature.
“It was never anything we considered because it was never anything that was available to us, so we never had those dreams about what would our wedding look like, what would we do, who would we invite, where would it be—we never, ever considered it because we never thought that it would happen in our lifetime,” Kelly told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
In November, the government put out a nationwide postal survey asking Australians if they wanted marriage equality; an overwhelming 62 percent majority voted that they did. Australia and Ireland are the only two countries that have put the question of gay marriage up for a popular vote.
For Lainey Carmichael, 51, and Roz Kitschke, 46, getting married at their home in the town of Franklin in the island state of Tasmania before 65 of their closest loved ones made the whole ordeal worth it.
Wedding guest and longtime marriage equality advocate Rodney Croome told NBC News, “This morning’s wedding marked the start of a new chapter in the lives of the two brides but also a new chapter in the life of the nation.”
See the sweet photos above.