Gold Coast couple Carly Naughton, 31, and Alee Fogarty, 28, are the first same-sex couple in Australia to legally commit their lives to each other with an 'Evermore Pledge'. As same-sex marriage is currently not legal in Australia and overseas marriages aren’t recognised, the ‘Evermore Pledge’ has been created as an interim solution for those who want the same legal agreements, rights and responsibilities as a married couple. Developed by Gold Coast celebrant Michelle Anderson to help the LGBT community while the fight for marriage equality drags on, the pledge is described as "a legal, lifetime contract for lovers.” That contract covers financial arrangements, wills, beneficiaries, next of kin, child custody, social security, superannuation, taxation, property, possessions, investments and more but cannot involve adoption rights. “For us, this was first and foremost about securing ourselves and our family legally,” said Carly, who has 23 month old son Oakland with Alee and is eight weeks pregnant with the couple’s second child.
“Sure we could go to NZ like many others, but sadly that wouldn't give us any legal rights the second our feet touched home soil.” Alee and Carly were contacted by Michelle through a mutual friend and organised the ceremony, which was held on July 1 in Surfers Paradise, in a matter of weeks. “Alee and I were so honoured to be asked to be the first, as we'd been engaged for some time and never really thought it would go further than that any time soon,” said Carly. And although their big day was not legally a wedding, “I got to feel what I assume other brides get to feel, the anticipation and anxiety that morning while I had my makeup done and my mum helped me into my gown. The sick feeling in my stomach as I walked down the aisle. Luckily we walked out as a family, and we got around the corner and saw all our family and friends waiting and cheering. I was so proud!” But the deeper meaning and impact of the day struck Carly as she walked down the aisle. “It hit me how momentous this event was. This wasn't just for us, it was for our family who thought they would never witness this, it was for our community who need those who are willing to pave the way and wear the brunt of the negativity so hopefully when their time comes same-sex unions are just normal and they aren't subjected to ridicule.”
Life feels pretty normal for the couple now, except that “we have the most gorgeous photos, we have a framed certificate celebrating our love and we have memories that will be so special forever. We feel a lot more secure of our future too.” For Gold Coast photographer, Kaitlin Maree, “it was amazing to capture and celebrate a same-sex couple being legally bound together in the same way marriage bounds a heterosexual couple. I loved being part of the first Evermore Pledge and shining light and moving forward with equality for all couples.”
Carly and Alee’s pledge has given the fight for marriage equality in Australia a new talking point and fresh international publicity. “Many people from across the world have said to me they didn't even realise Australia did not yet allow same-sex marriage. They couldn't believe it! So we are helping to raise awareness, create a platform for discussion and educating people along the way. What an absolute honour we have!” “Our love deserved recognition and we got that. It's not equality, but I feel this could be part of the movement that helps get this country there.”