'My lawful wedded spouse' suggested to become new title at Australian weddings

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Two bride figurines adorn the top of a wedding cake during an illegal same-sex wedding ceremony in central Melbourne August 1, 2009.
Two bride figurines adorn the top of a wedding cake during an illegal same-sex wedding ceremony in central Melbourne August 1, 2009. Reuters/Mick Tsikas

As Australia edges closer to the end of its journey towards same-sex marriage, changes, including a new title, are tipped to make its way to Aussie weddings. It is suggested that the legal terminology could change from husband and wife to “spouse.”

The Marriage Amendment bill, if passed, will change the Marriage Act to legalise same-sex marriage. Under the existing marriage act, civil celebrants must ensure the couple who are getting married utter the sentence, "I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, (insert name here), take thee, (insert their name here), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband).”

"This amendment will enable marrying couples to word their marriage vows in a manner that best reflects their relationship,” the explanatory memorandum to the bill states. In the guidelines from the Attorney-General's department, the words husband and wife in vows can be substituted by “spouse,” News Mail reports. This means couples who don’t want to be referred to as "husband and wife" may be able to take their partner as their lawful wedded spouse.

'Lawful wedded spouse'

Stephen Lee, a celebrant from Sydney, said he already has 10 gay couples waiting to walk down the aisle once the law changes. News Mail reports that when the changes are up, Lee will be asking couples what they want to be referred as during their weddings. The celebrant may ask the pairs if they would want him to declare them as husband and husband, wife and wife, spouses or legally married.

Liberal MP Tim Wilson and his fiance Ryan Patrick Bolger are among those expected to marry in Australia. Wilson popped the question earlier this week as same-sex marriage enters the final stretch of debate; his partner’s reply was a yes.

Same-sex marriage is set to pass the parliament Thursday after MPs knocked back changes to the bill. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull did not cancel Question Time to go on with the debate on the other amendments.

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the Greens and some conservatives have proposed changes, but they have already been voted down. Abbott reportedly criticised Turnbull and Labor leader Bill Shorten for supposedly failing to support stronger religious protections in the bill as the debate was underway.

 Australia’s high court has ruled in favour of marriage. It said that barring two people from marrying on the grounds of sexual orientation is discriminatory.

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