Calliope Mum's story moves parliament on civil union bill

Kelly Anne (left) was worried what her 95-year-old grandfather Mervin would think about the union with Kara. But then he pulled her mum aside and said; ‘I have a problem with this. I have been shopping three times and I can’t find one wedding card with two women on it’.
Kelly Anne (left) was worried what her 95-year-old grandfather Mervin would think about the union with Kara. But then he pulled her mum aside and said; ‘I have a problem with this. I have been shopping three times and I can’t find one wedding card with two women on it’. Katrina Elliott Photography

QUEENSLAND has taken the first step towards marriage equality after parliament yesterday approved the reintroduction of civil partnerships.

The bill allows relationships, regardless of gender make-up, to be legally recognised and ceremonies to be held.

The LNP allowed a free vote on the bill which the Labor government introduced and supported.

It passed 64 - 22 after an impassioned speech from Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher.

Mr Butcher said while there were a variety of views in the electorate he believed voting for the bill was the right thing to do.

"I consider that these changes are about fairness, quality and respect, for the dignity of all members of our community," he said.

"It's absolutely fantastic the bill passed and reflects that society changes, and things move on. In 30 or 40 years time I am sure people will be saying 'I can't believe they didn't let them do this before'.

"From the moment the bill passed, the calls and messages have been flooding in, so there are obviously a lot of people in Gladstone who are happy it passed."

(Top )Jill, Kara and Rodney Hopson.
(Top )Jill, Kara and Rodney Hopson. Katrina Elliott

Mr Butcher told the story of the daughter of one of his office workers - who came out as gay.

>> Read Glenn Butcher's full speech to parliament

Seven years ago Jill Hopson was standing in a paddock, surrounded by hay, on a farm in the Boyne Valley when her daughter Kara told her she was dating a woman.

It came as a shock to Jill, now 56, because Kara had been with men before.

"It freaked me out at first," Jill said. "We were always supportive right from the start."

It was more upsetting to realise her daughter's loving relationship wouldn't be recognised by the law.

Instead of a perfect white wedding Jill watched her first born child get married over Skype. Kara and Kelly Anne had gone to New York for the ceremony, knowing that at least there it was legally binding.

Kara Hopson and Kelly Anne Russell were married in New York on January 2, but then had another ceremony with family and friends in Calliope on June 8.
Kara Hopson and Kelly Anne Russell were married in New York on January 2, but then had another ceremony with family and friends in Calliope on June 8. Katrina Elliott Photography

But Jill wants the record here to show her daughter found her soul mate and was happily married.

"I call Kelly Anne my daughter-in-law because that's what she is," Jill said.

"They deserve to have a civil partnership so they are respected in their relationship the same way anybody else is.

"If somebody is reading our family tree - in the past they would have seen Kara's name there and thought she was a spinster; and wondered why she never married."

Jill says she is tolerant of other people's opinions when it comes to homosexuality, but couldn't stand the fact that in the eyes of the law her daughter's same-sex partnership was worth less than "normal" couples.

"It doesn't have to be marriage," Jill said. "But it has to be recognised as a legal partnership. It just has to be."

Jill hosted a ceremony for the couple on the front lawn at her Calliope home, but says she felt she had to tailor the guest list to friends she knew would be accepting.

There were 183 guests, a mix of friends, family and colleagues.

Read Mr Butcher's full speech here.

Topics:  civil union marriage equality same-sex marriage

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