Sunday 21 January 2018

This woman's message on marriage equality is going viral after her wife was killed in a car accident

Lara and Elsie Ryan. Photo: Lara Ryan Facebook.
Lara and Elsie Ryan. Photo: Lara Ryan Facebook.

Sasha Brady

After her wife Elsie was tragically killed in a car accident, Australian woman Lara Ryan has written a heartfelt plea for marriage equality.

In Ireland, we're still basking in the feel-good glow of the last year's Marriage Equality Referendum, which made us the first country to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote.

However, in Australia the situation is very different - the government does not recognise same-sex marriages despite numerous attempts by some of its citizens to push for marriage equality nationwide.

Same-sex couple, Lara and Elsie Ryan, had been together for a decade and considered themselves married, albeit not in the eyes of the law. They celebrated their union with a "wedding" ceremony which was attended by over 100 of their closest friends and family.

Their four-year-old daughter Ivy would proudly inform people that she had "two mums".

So three weeks ago, when Lara found herself in the painful situation of filling in a death certificate for her partner, the heartache was intensified when she had to cross out the box for "husband" on Elsie's death certificate.

Elsie Ryan with Ivy and baby Skylar. Photo: Lara Ryan Facebook.
Elsie Ryan with Ivy and baby Skylar. Photo: Lara Ryan Facebook.

Elsie had been knocked down on February 8 as she returned home from dropping Ivy off to school, just three weeks after she had given birth to the couple's second daughter Skylar.

The shock of the accident was compounded by the initial confusion Lara encountered surrounding their relationship.

She says she has spent the weeks since Elise's death ringing lawyers, government agencies and their insurance company, explaining the nature of their relationship.

"For anyone - whether you're gay, straight, a son, a daughter, a sister, a partner - it's a very trying thing to tell the same story over and over again and go through forms and red tape and not fitting into particular boxes," Lara said when speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Elsie Ryan and daughter Ivy. Photo: Lara Ryan Facebook.
Elsie Ryan and daughter Ivy. Photo: Lara Ryan Facebook.

"I just remember crying to my mum and saying 'If I had a proper marriage certificate, this would not be so hard. It would just be accepted.'

"If I had a husband, I would just say 'My husband has passed away,' and people would get that.

"If marriage was available, I would have chosen to be married," Lara said.

"My parents have a beautiful marriage, my partner's parents had a beautiful marriage. They were very proud of their families, and we would have done the same thing ourselves if we had had the option. She was not my de facto. She was my wife."

Lara said the pair had "never been political" and didn't really think too much about their official marital status in the past.

In her grief and frustration, the Sydney woman penned a heartfelt plea on Facebook, called This Is Why, which calls for marriage equality and highlights the full burden of its injustice on families.

Lara Ryan's Facebook post #thisiswhy calls for marriage equality in Australia.
Lara Ryan's Facebook post #thisiswhy calls for marriage equality in Australia.

The post reads: “Because having lost my partner in a horrible pedestrian accident this month I had to ask policemen if I was ‘allowed’ to write Spouse on incident reports. I had to cross out boxes for husband on the death certificate and boxes for father on our new baby’s birth certificate (both on the same day). I had to yell out in a busy, crazy emergency room ‘She is my wife, I know it’s not legal but she is my wife!’”

“Because we were never political, we just did our thing, did our life our way and tried to live by example to shift peoples hearts rather than pushing agendas. BUT the amount of freaking paper work I am having to do to secure mine and my children’s future welfare is just ridiculous when all it would take is one marriage certificate.”

“And most of all because I love her, and she has been my every day for ten years, She is the mother of our two girls, she is the future I dreamed of and she is my safe place to land.”

“Because love is love and we should celebrate it and encourage it always.
The world is harsh enough. Feel free to share widely - ‪#‎thisiswhy‬

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