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“We have just celebrated 23 years together. We met at the workplace, both working for the TEN Network in the 90’s.  We have a very loving and sharing relationship, and I feel our strength comes from being very supportive of each other; that’s what keeps us going. When one is weakened, the other steps up and is the strength, and that changes as we go along. We’re also a team in raising our lads. And that’s one of the best bits. Ohana is Hawaiian for family – it means that nobody gets left behind. That’s us. We have two beautiful boys; 18 and almost 14 years of age.  We are incredibly proud of the two of them. We love our boys so much, and it wasn’t easy to have them, it took a long time. We were DI (Donor Insemination) and the process overall took about 6-7 years to be blessed with our two boys.  A bumpy road, but we really wanted children, and it wasn’t going to happen by accident! Prior to being able to join the DI program, we had to attend counselling and the key point that was made was that the child has us as parents, that there is nothing missing.  Our two boys have two parents who love them, two opinions, two voices, two people who guide them through life. They do not feel that there is anything missing.

Bringing children into the world changes a lot of people’s minds.  Even amongst family. Babies break down any remaining reservations; at least that was our experience.  Also, having children moves you into a new circle of people.  Going up to school the first time was a little nerve-wracking not knowing what the reactions would be, but they were 100% positive. We were a part of the Willoughby Public School community for almost 10 years, and we have made some fabulous friends, and we had lots of fun participating in the community, attending events and also being a part of the P&C. Our boys’ approach could be best explained by the reaction of our oldest when he was in Year 4, and some boys decided to try and tease him by saying, “Your mum’s a lesbian!!!” and he turned to them and said “Yeah, so?”.  That settled it then and there.

We live in Naremburn and have been in the Naremburn/Willoughby area for 20 years.  We chose the area for its good schools, and mostly because of its sense of community.  We always said we wanted to raise children in an area where you could walk down the street and know the chemist, the newsagent, the chef at your favourite restaurant. We have always felt supported by our neighbours and locals, although we would have to confess to having some reservations initially, not knowing what to expect. Our first neighbours in Naremburn were absolutely accepting from day one, they would shout hello over the fence and we would share cups of tea.  To this day they are our closest friends and “guide” parents to our boys. After returning from a stint in New Zealand, we moved to Willoughby and were reasonably surprised to discover our neighbours were a beautiful, elderly gay male couple, so needless to say we got on with them like a house on fire.

Over the years we have found that some neighbours weren’t particularly friendly, but sometimes you need to take a step back and look at the situation and realise they wouldn’t be friendly with us anyway, it’s not about being a same sex couple.  We have had fabulous neighbours, young, old, and in between who have done exactly as we hoped and that is, treat us the same way as the neighbours on the other side of the fence.

The postal vote comes with a lot of mixed emotions, some we expected but there are some that have knocked us a little.  Obviously, we are very keen for the bill to pass in parliament, but we are very disappointed that it has been put to the public to vote.  This, as expected, is way out of control, with heated emotions on both sides.  We would like to respect other people’s opinions but it is very difficult to keep an even temper when there so many outrageous and untrue statements made about members of the LGBTQI community, same sex couples, and children of same sex couples.  The waters have been muddied, and the debate is so far off the point. It is to gain equal rights, recognised by the state. This is not a religious discussion; this is about my rights as partner to be recognised in a hospital, in financial matters, and by the law.  This change will not affect anyone else, no one else’s life will change if I can marry my partner, just our lives. It is very difficult to have to watch and listen to so many untruths being thrown around, but also to hear the debate on who should be able to express their opinion and how it can be expressed is even more outrageous. We have discussed the issue with friends, family, co-workers and we are very fortunate to be in an area that appears to be very supportive, but it is never 100% and we have been struck by some opposition that surprised us.

Traditionally, we have not been the family to protest or march to make our view point heard – we have always had the approach that we live in the ‘burbs and work with everyday people and they see us as just like them. We can change people’s minds about homophobia by being a regular family next door, making change one person at a time. It has to be remembered I am a partner, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a co-worker and I happen to by gay. It is not all that I am.

We do feel the vote will be yes, but not by a margin we would like.  We would love to have the confidence in the government to take the results and make the change, but we fear that may not happen.  It is not a given, even with a majority yes vote that the bill will be passed.We have been together for over 23 years; we made a commitment to each other when we decided to have children that we would be a family forever.  Our breakup song would be “If you leave me, can I come too?”  If this bill is passed in parliament it won’t be imperative to have a big wedding – a registry office will be fine – but a wedding would be a lovely gift to give our elderly mothers; the gift of being able to see their daughters marry.”

Pictured left to right: Kristin, Toby, Vicki, Rafe. Photo credit: Michael Chetham Photography