Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Herald Sun - "Gay ceremony double dads' day" by Mary Bolling

THE champagne was popping, the roses were red, and the couple was happy - and gay.

Yesterday, Jeff Chiang and Rodney Cruise were Victoria's first gay couple to sign a relationship register.

They celebrated the event yesterday as Yarra Council launched its Relationship Declaration Register, which offers to record same-sex and mixed-sex relationships.

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While signing the register will not give the Richmond couple the rights of marriage, they're hoping it's a small step towards more rights as parents of their son Ethan.

With friends gathered, the couple used the Fitzroy Town Hall launch to exchange commitment vows.

In front of civil celebrant and fellow gay father Jason Tuazon-McCheyne, Mr Cruise and Mr Chiang promised to be faithful and loving.

"You are my best friend, my lover, and the father of my son Ethan," they said to each other. "I now proudly take your hand as you have taken my heart."

During the ceremony, Yarra Council mayor Jenny Farrar told how the couple had mortgaged their home and travelled to the United States to have baby Ethan through IVF and surrogacy.

Ethan is the biological son of one of the men, but the couple preferred not to know which one.

Under Australian law, however, the non-biological father is not allowed to formally adopt.

"It's a terrible situation to be in, that one of us doesn't have parental rights," Mr Cruise said. "Queer families -- 'rainbow families' -- are on the increase, which means a lot of children aren't protected by their parents having rights."

Mr Chiang held four-month-old Ethan during the ceremony.

Yarra Council voted unanimously to introduce the Relationship Register earlier this year, following the lead of Melbourne City Council.

Last month, the State Government also bowed to pressure from councils and lobby groups, promising to introduce a statewide register by the end of the year.

[Link: Original Article]

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