Terminal illness led to Australia's first same-sex marriage

Jill Kindt (L) and Jo Grant were married on 15 December. Courtesy: BBC

A dying woman and her partner were the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Australia, it has been revealed. 

After the nation redefined its marriage law in December, Jo Grant and Jill Kindt obtained an exemption from an official waiting period.

Ms Grant died from cancer on 30 January, less than seven weeks after marrying Ms Kindt. They had been together for eight years.

“Jo and I got to be legally married for 48 days – I’ll take that,” Ms Kindt. 

Their historic marriage was made public in Queensland’s parliament by state Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath.

“I am honoured to reveal today that on December the 15th last year, despite what you may have seen reported in the media, Australia’s first same-sex marriage was in fact actually held in Queensland,” she said.

Laws allowing same-sex couples to register for marriage had come into effect six days earlier, following a decisive public vote and approval by parliament.

Some other same-sex couples, including others where one partner had a terminal illness, were also allowed to skip the waiting period and a handful of well-reported midnight celebrations took place.

But the Queensland couple were married privately in their garden on the Sunshine Coast, surrounded by friends and family. Ms D’Ath said the marriage had been revealed now to parliament with family permission. 

She said officials went to “extraordinary lengths” to make Ms Grant and Ms Kindt’s wedding happen quickly. 

The ceremony took place within 24 hours of the marriage being approved.

Ms D’Ath said staff from Queensland Births, Deaths and Marriages drove about 100km (60 miles) to deliver paperwork to the marriage celebrant.

Ms Grant had a “rare cancer” and had been receiving palliative care. She and Ms Kindt had held a commitment ceremony in 2013.

“We considered ourselves married [in 2013], but in a legal sense we weren’t,” said Ms Kindt, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.