South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has apologised to Marco Bulmer-Rizzi, a gay British man, after South Australian state authorities refused to acknowledge his marriage when his partner tragically died while in Adelaide.
David Bulmer-Rizzia and Marco Bulmer-Rizzi wed in front of family and friends in 2014 and were on their Australian honeymoon when David fell down a flight of stairs last week, succumbing to his injuries.
Having just lost his husband, Marcos pain was exacerbated when state authorities refused to recognise the couple’s marriage, shutting Marco out from any decisions to be made about his husband, and stamping David’s death certificate as ‘never married’.
“When the funeral director came that’s when I was told that because Australia doesn’t recognise same-sex marriage, it [the death certificate] will say ‘never married’,” Marco Bulmer-Rizzi told Buzzfeed News.
“I asked at that point whether it was possible to say nothing [about his marital status], and I was told, ‘No, that’s not one of the drop down options on the computer’.
All decisions about David’s funeral arrangements and were made by David’s father Nigel, who effectively acted as a rubber stamp, supporting all of the decisions that Marco wanted for his husband.
The absurdity of the unnecessarily tragic situation has lead to condemnation from activists and politicians who say the case is a classic example of why marriage equality is needed in Australia and why each of the states needs to recognise overseas same-sex marraiges.
Currently all east coast Australian states recognise the validity of same-sex marriages performed overseas, however South Australia does not.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill personally phoned Marco to apologise and offer his condolences, promising to introduce legislation to ensure that a similar tragedy does not occur again.
“It is another example of how senseless discrimination of sexual orientation can cause pain and hurt,” Mr Weatherill told the media.
“We introduced an initial Bill to the Parliament last year to begin the removal of discrimination from South Australian legislation… We will introduce a further raft of legislation to the Parliament this year that will grapple with the more complex issues such as this.”
Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome has called on the federal governent to follow Mr Weatherill’s lead.
“Last night I spoke to the man at the centre of the tragedy, Marco Bulmer-Rizzi, who said SA Premier, Jay Weatherill, has given him a personally guarantee South Australia will pass legislation to recognise overseas same-sex marriages, as well as re-issuing the death certificate of Marco’s late husband David which currently says ‘never married'”.
“I urge the federal government to follow South Australia’s lead and ensure there is no discrimination against same-sex couples married overseas, be they travellers like Marco and David or Australian residents.”
“Ever more Australian same-sex couples are marrying overseas because they can’t wait any longer for marriage equality in their home country.”
“It’s time the federal government stopped delaying and responded to the fact that thousands of its citizens are in legitimate but unrecognised marriages.”