A bittersweet marriage equality story 134



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Marriage equality is all the rage… just not in Australia sadly for this couple. So, with the support of loved ones and gay marriage equality they have hopped across the ocean to New Zealand to fulfil a dying wish.

Sandra Yates, 57, and Lee Bransden, 75, have known each other for three decades and have been in a relationship together for eight years.  Bransden is facing the final weight of lung disease, the fight against which has left the couple broke and having to sell their possessions to contemplate funeral expenses in the future. So Australian Marriage Equality group stepped in and launched a crowd funding project to be able to afford to send them to New Zealand to be marriage, fulfilling a longtime wish of both.  Donations amounting to over $11,000 poured in and their wedding dreams have been fulfilled.

On this, a momentous day for marriage equality in Ireland, it seems important to discuss the journey of same sex couples in love from outcast to being a well-supported part of the society we live in. Enjoy the pictures below.

Their crowd funding wall on Gofund.me contained the following text:

Sandra Yates and Lee Bransden want to marry before it is too late.

Lee has a terminal illness and has been given just weeks to live. Because Australia doesn’t allow marriage equality the best option for them to legally marry is to travel to New Zealand. But Lee and Sandra are both on pensions and can’t afford the trip.

Friends and supporters of Lee and Sandra are seeking $6500 to cover the costs of Lee and Sandra’s wedding. Your donation will go towards flights, accommodation and costs associated with the marriage ceremony.

Lee and Sandra have been companions for 30 years, ever since Sandra volunteered to pick apples on an orchid Lee managed.

“Lee thought it was pretty cheeky of me to say I knew all about apples because I was from Tasmania”, Sandra recalls. “We got along really well from the moment we met.”

But Sandra was married with young children so she and Lee remained just good friends.

Their beautiful wedding took place over a week ago in Mitai Maori Village in New Zealand. The couple spoke to Buzzfeed about their event:

“We’ve had a lot of bad luck, we’ve had a lot of hard times”.

“It’s been absolutely generous in every way, whether that’s verbally, or contributing to our cause, to our needs, to our wishes, to our dreams,” Sandra said.

“To make Lee’s life happier, to give her something more to live for. I just can’t thank everybody enough”.

“It’s been the most wonderful day of my life. I am married to the most wonderful woman,” said Lee. “This should have happened in Australia”.

“Why is Australia so behind the world in this respect?” asked Sandra. “We are supposed to be a leading-edge country. We really are not that advanced”.

Are you in favour of marriage equality in Australia? 

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images: Bill Hedges/Gotya Photography

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. Sorry can’t accept this…

    14 REPLY
    • I think it is so common for one partner in a gay marriage to look like a person of the other sex. In the photo above I thought it was a man and a woman. I too am struggling to accept gay marriage – especially when children are involved.

    • I think if two people live each other they should be able to commit for life.
      What I struggle with are the men and women who take vows, then dishonour them with affairs and abuse.

    • Why would lee want to dress like a man I find that weird, also why the big deal..lots of people who are not gay can’t afford to get married..sick or not…sorry this story didn’t touch my heart

    • You have nothing to feel sorry about Jennifer. Instead feel grateful & proud that you have not yet been tainted by selfish, self-centred propaganda.

    • I find it hard as well, why are they pushing for marriage so much, can’t they just be happy to be together. One partner nearly always takes the roll of a man,why?

      1 REPLY
      • The “man” in this couple may be a cross-dresser, a totally different issue. And there is usually a “man” in this scenario? That is simply not true – be more observant – Tony Abbott’s sister is in a same sex relationship, both obviously women, Penny Wong is the same, both beautiful feminine women. All I can say – let’s have a referendum! But of course it will never happen under this government.

    • I would like to see a world where we just accept people are different, the main thing in a relationship should be respect, allowing each other to become the best version of ourselves, supporting each other, growing as people. If some couples are same sex, does it really matter?
      If some of these couples have children they are treated with so much love & thankful they have beautiful children. Just being brought up by a gay couple DOES NOT mean that they will be gay as an adult. You are either gay or straight from the start, jsut some come to realise later in life.
      There are so many heterosexual couples where the woman & children are being abused by their partner, where there is no respect & they cheat on their partners.

    • I am with you Jennifer, what is this world coming too, I am disgusted with this modern attitude, what has gone wrong I ask myself, and I can’t find an answer.

    • What are people frightened of? That gay couples will turn them gay? It baffles me how bigoted and closed minded some people are. Remember when disabled people were locked in asylums? Aren’t we glad that we’re more “modern” these days?

      1 REPLY
      • Didn’t you read Mr Cory Bernardi’s comments? “Homosexuality will result in bestiality”! It is that sort of view that taints what the population think – they believe that because he’s a politician he knows what he is talking about!

    • Kay Eller I don’t believe you are using heterosexual couples to discibe abuse to woman and children.
      What planet are you on?
      Same sex couples both male and female suffer from abuse too. Being gay doesn’t make you all warm and fluffy… they are people 1st with personalities good and bad.

  2. Ireland which is a well known Catholic country has overwhelmingly voted yes to gay marriage. We need to do the same. It’s just love people.

    3 REPLY
    • Listening to ABC24 , chap was asking one of the supporters how the church will accept this, being predominately Catholic,, He said he didn’t know, but probably wouldn’t !!!!! SO what has changed

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