Ricky Klingsporn and Martin Steere are looking forward to their civil union in Gympie in April – they said the new Civil Partnerships Bill passed on Wednesday night was a step in the right direction.
Ricky Klingsporn and Martin Steere are looking forward to their civil union in Gympie in April – they said the new Civil Partnerships Bill passed on Wednesday night was a step in the right direction. Renee Pilcher

Ready to take the plunge

ENGLAND was the next step for Gympie same-sex couple Ricky Klingsporn and Martin Steere, who wish to wed next year.

They were taking their loved ones to another country so they could have a "beautiful ceremony" that would be recognised in Australia, or Martin, a nail technician, was ready to move there so he could fit in.

Even though the marriage in England would not give the pair any legal rights in Queensland, they were prepared to spend thousands of dollars on the wedding in May and have it in time for Martin's birthday.

They were also planning on a commitment ceremony in Gympie beside Martin's mother's dam in April, around the time of Ricky's birthday.

Now the Queensland Government has passed a Civil Partnerships Bill, which they say is "a step in the right direction," they will save some money and have one ceremony in their home town.

Their England trip will now serve as a honeymoon.

The new era for same-sex partnerships in Queensland would boost the Australian economy, Martin said.

He knew of 10 Queensland couples who had travelled overseas to wed recently.

The couple met on Facebook two years ago.

"It's a funny story," Martin says.

"He waited two years to meet me."

A friend had tried to set them up.

Martin, who grew up in Gympie, was living in Brisbane at the time.

"I was busy," he explained of not meeting Ricky for two years.

Now they are planning their civil union.

"You can't choose who your heart belongs to," Ricky said yesterday.

"We are human and deserve the same rights as anyone. The constitution says 'anyone' has the right to get married."

The openly gay couple just wants the same rights as heterosexuals.

"We want to have a nice ceremony. It's not nice to walk into an office and sign paperwork."

And they want that ceremony to give them the same rights as a married couple, but until Australia passes same-sex marriage legislation a civil partnership will have to do.

The debate was once again erupted over same-sex unions after the recent passing of the Civil Partnerships Bill in Queensland Parliament.

Supporter and openly gay man Martin Steere said he would save thousands of dollars with the new legislation.

Instead of travelling to England to marry his long-term partner Ricky Klingsporn, the couple will now have a civil union on a picturesque property in Gympie.

"It was ridiculous. At Centrelink they treat us the same, but not for anything else," Mr Steere said of his rights to be in a relationship recognised under State laws.

A Civil Partnership gave same-sex and heterosexual couples more rights in Queensland than a de facto relationship, but not quite as many as marriage.

The couple argue same-sex marriage should be recognised under the law and not allowing it was discriminatory.

"The constitution says 'anyone' has the right to get married," Mr Steere said.

State LNP Member for Gympie David Gibson voted against the bill, not because he was directed to but, he said, because same-sex couples already had the same legal rights as heterosexuals.

"For me it was not about the same-sex provisions as the law currently provides for the same-sex recognition for de facto relationships," he said.

Mr Steere and his partner disagreed with Mr Gibson's view that both Queensland and Federal parliaments had ensured same-sex couples had the same legal rights as heterosexual ones in the eyes of the law.

"We should have the same rights and be able to get married," Mr Steere said.

 

CIVIL UNIONS

  • Civil Partnerships are not marriages, but are an option for those who can't, or don't want to marry;
  • Registration of Civil Partnerships will provide an easier way for same-sex couples to prove they are in a relationship;
  • Civil Partnerships are recognised by the State;
  • The law recognises de facto couples, including same-sex de facto couples, but couples are often forced to prove their relationship;
  • Proof is especially difficult where one of the partners is incapacitated, such as unconscious, or on the death of a partner. It is not uncommon for biological family, who may have been estranged for many years, to be given greater recognition and rights than a long-term same-sex partner;
  • More and more same-sex couples have been spending money outside the country to get married;
  • The bill was passed at 11.10pm, Wednesday, 47 votes to 40
Gympie Times


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