Same-sex marriage: Kelly and Sam’s wedding the culmination of a dream

From left: Kelly, Charlotte and Sam Pilgrim-Byrne. Photo: Linda Dunjey
From left: Kelly, Charlotte and Sam Pilgrim-Byrne. Photo: Linda Dunjey

KELLY and Sam Pilgrim-Byrne will marry at midnight on Monday – five days after their 24th anniversary.

The Southern River couple, who met while working at Silver Chain, will legally say “I do” on the steps of State Parliament in front of family, friends – and celebrant Terry Healy – who is also the Southern River MLA.

Their 10-year-old daughter Charlotte Pilgrim-Byrne summed up what it meant for her parents to marry: “It’s another way of saying I love you forever.”

Charlotte is the reason her mums are using State Parliament as the venue; they spent a lot of time on those very steps campaigning for same-sex equality – in particular the right for gay couples to adopt and access fertility treatment.

“We chose the steps of Parliament House to have our ceremony because we spent quite a lot of time at Parliament when we were fighting for legislation changes in Western Australia,” Kelly said.

“On the night that the Acts Amendment (Gay and Lesbian Law Reform) Act 2002 passed Parliament, we sat in the public gallery for the all-night sitting and walked out into the morning daylight feeling that WA had changed for the better and that we were witnesses to this historic moment.

“It seems fitting to return to Parliament House as one of the first same sex couples in WA to now celebrate another historic moment for LGBTI people with our own wedding.”

The Pilgrim-Byrnes, whose journey to have a child was followed in the media, registered for fertility treatment almost as soon as the legislation passed.

After 45 cycles of IUI and IVF between them over four years, Sam gave birth to Charlotte on September 26, 2007.

Kelly and Sam’s fight to conceive was followed in the media.

Charlotte was with her parents at Northbridge Piazza when the positive same sex marriage vote was announced on November 15.

“I was photographing the crowd’s reaction through my own tears of relief and joy,” Kelly said.

“I briefed Charlotte prior that I wouldn’t be able to cuddle Sam when the result was announced because I would be photographing, so could she be sure to cuddle her extra tight for me.

“As it was announced I glanced down at the stage to see Charlotte wrap her arms around Sam in a tight embrace, which only made the tears flow faster.”

Kelly and Sam lodged their Notice of Intended Marriage with Births, Deaths and Marriages on Saturday, December 9.

The pending wedding is a dream they never thought would become reality in WA.

“To be honest, I never thought we’d be able to marry in our lifetime,” Kelly said.

“It wasn’t even a consideration when we first got together. Quite the opposite in fact.

“We have always known that our relationship wasn’t considered equal to others and as such, we legally changed our surname in 2004 because it was our way, the only way available to us at the time, of symbolically claiming each other as ‘coupled’, and somehow legitimising our commitment to one another.

“Changing all of our documents to our new ‘family’ name was incredibly affirming.

“After 24 years together, being able to actually get married and have everyone recognise it as legal is a dream come true and we are deeply thankful to the people who fought so hard to make this happen.”