First day same-sex couples can say ‘I do’
AT THE stroke of midnight a new era was ushered in with same-sex couples now officially able to wed in Australia.
Immediately couples around the country began say their wedding vows with Australia the 25th country globally to recognise the unions.
Wasting no time to tie the knot were two athletes. Sprinter and Glasgow Commonwealth Games participant Craig Burns wed Luke Sullivan in a moonlit ceremony in northern NSW overnight.
The Tweed Heads wedding happened just a few minutes after the law came into effect.
"It's a very surreal feeling," Craig told AAP in the lead-up to the event. The pair first met three years ago and said they fell in love "straight away" before Mr Burns popped the question at Byron Bay in March.
In November, almost 62 per cent of voters gave a thumbs up to same-sex marriage in the postal survey following a bitter campaign.
On December 7, the House of Representatives resoundingly passed a law to redefine marriage from being the union of a "man and a woman" to simply "two people".
The first day weddings could take place was set for January 9. However, a few couples got in early receiving special dispensation to hold their legal weddings just days after the law change.
Andrew Chatterton and James Hemphill, from Adelaide, will marry today.
The couple, both teachers who have been together about eight years, arranged their wedding in just one month after Mr Chatterton proposed the night the law was passed, reported the Adelaide Advertiser.
"We've found that some retailers are not quite ready yet for same-sex marriages - for starters, it was difficult to explain to a jeweller that I was looking for an engagement ring for a man," said Mr Chatterton.
"But on the flip side, we have also found that despite some initial confusion, many places ... have been really enthusiastic about helping us."
It's thought same-sex marriage could inject $2 billion into the Australian economy in the next few years.
The City of Sydney council has offered its facilities for 100 days for to any same-sex couples intending to wed. Six couples have so far taken up the offer.
Celebrants have said they expect a second wave of gay couples to tie the knot in 2019 which will give plenty of time to plan the celebrations.
Sally Rugg, the marriage equality director of campaign group GetUp, said many couples had waited decades for this day.
"From Tuesday onwards, no couple will have to wait to declare their love and solemnise their commitment to each other," Ms Rugg said.
"From here on in young LGBTIQ Australians will know that they too can look forward to a future of acceptance, love and marriage, if that's what they choose.
"Australia is one huge step closer to practising the value of fairness that we preach."