As the plebiscite is killed off and the #equalitycampaign pushes for a parliamentary free vote on marriage equality, wedding photographer Matthew Parkes celebrates the commitment ceremony of a couple whose love wouldn’t wait.
Melbourne-based photographer Matthew Parkes is a self-proclaimed “big softy at heart, and a fan of seeing great stories of love and happiness.” So for him, marriage equality is a no-brainer. “I have a five year old nephew with better social justice skills than the government,” he says of the Liberal Party’s refusal to allow a free vote to settle the issue in parliament.
Matthew works with same-sex couples who choose a symbolic commitment ceremony in Australia rather than marrying overseas or waiting for Australia to make their love legal. He says these occasions shine a little brighter than weddings, due to “a sense of triumph against the established norms of the country that still haven’t made this an okay thing.”
Even though Matthew agrees that the lack of legal recognition isn’t what same sex couples deserve, he’s “excited to think of the special unions of two people who are in love and don’t care for the decisions made by a few stuck up old people.”
Matthew recently worked with a lesbian couple who ignored the political storm raging around them and committed their lives to each other in front of an international group of family and friends who descended on Melbourne for the event.
On a cold winter’s day, The Point Restaurant at Albert Park lit up with the warmth, love and fun of a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony. For Matthew, two moments from the day particularly stood out.
“The first was really fun with one of the girls trying to get past the bridal party to see her bride, by offering gifts and completing tasks of strength and endurance” and the other was the tea ceremony which honoured the parents.
When it came time for the girls to make their solemn promises to each other “I saw one of the most hilarious sets of vowels that I have ever heard; I couldn’t hold the camera straight I was laughing so hard! It was really funny and very sweet.”
And what about the families of these couples? “Every time, I have been so impressed by the immediate families of the same-sex couples and the support that they give towards them. There has been so much acceptance of their love for each other, and an understanding that their choice in partner is one that makes the couple really happy. And that is then a source of the family’s happiness.”
Like many Australians who support same-sex marriage, Matthew hopes that equality will soon be a reality in this country. “I have many friends who would be thrilled by the chance to wed. In my world as a photographer who gets to witness many of the best moments in life that can happen to someone, having it restricted like this is so unfair and unnecessary.”
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Photo credits: Matthew Parkes