Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Southern Star - "Victorian Couples Recognised" by Andie Noonan

After sharing eight years and one son together, Rodney Cruise and Jeff Chiang are finally an official couple in the eyes of  the law.

Cruise and Chiang were among the first couples to take advantage of the Victorian Relationships Register, which opened this week and will allow same-sex couples to formally register their unions.

With 23-month-old son Ethan in their arms, the pair registered at the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages on Monday, the register’s first day, with three other same-sex couples.

Victorian Parliament passed laws earlier this year to allow unmarried heterosexual and same-sex domestic partners to formalise their relationships with a registry scheme.

Registration will now provide conclusive proof of a domestic relationship under Victorian law.

The Victorian scheme mirrors those operating in the ACT and Tasmania .

Cruise told Southern Star it was an important step on the road to what he and his partner hope will be the right to marry.

Cruise said the two decided to formalise their union for both practical and symbolic reasons.

“If one of us died, I don’t want to be having to prove the person just buried is my partner to disbelieving public servants or banks or whoever,” he said.

“It’s really important knowing our family will be recorded in official government documents.

“The historic nature of it is that gay families are recognised for the first time. We are a recognised part of the community.”

Although there are no planned festivities, the couple celebrated their anniversary with a recent trip to Japan, and, more importantly for Ethan, a trip to Disneyland.

Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Rob Hulls launched the scheme, saying it was a significant day for those who cannot or don’t wish to marry, to have their relationship respected.

“This will make it easier for couples to access their rights under Victorian law and provide certainty to their legal obligations, without having to argue repeatedly that they are in a committed partnership or to have to prove this in court,” he said.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission CEO, Dr Helen Szoke welcomed couples to the first day of registration.

Registering couples need to be 18 years or older, live in Victoria and not be married or in another domestic relationship already registered in Victoria.

Registering a relationship will cost $180, with additional costs for a registration certificate.


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