#604 Words can hurt…and heal

by Michelle Jarman

Two of the most beautiful women I know - my daughters in love

Michelle and her partner Miriam, two of the most beautiful women I know – my daughters in love

As a Canadian living in Australia, I abide by Australian laws.  As a lesbian living in Australia, I deeply struggle with the inequality that same-sex marriage is still illegal here. I cannot walk down the aisle on my father’s arm, and I cannot legally profess undying love for my partner of 11 years.

Despite paying my taxes, supporting my economy and casting my political vote, I am a second-class citizen in this beautiful country down under—all because my heart is filled with adoration for a wonderful woman.

I choose to happily live in Australia, but I am forever proud to be Canadian.  Knowing I could have the wedding of my dreams in Canada is very special – but it is not legally transferrable to the sunburnt country I now call my home.  And so, I will wait.

I recently had the awesome experience of feeling the equality of Canadian ways.  This gives me hope!!  My partner, Miriam, and I have been lucky enough to purchase an investment property in my Canadian hometown of Kelowna.  We currently have it tenanted but plan on taking our young family over to live for a year or two one day in the future.

The other day, I had to contact the City of Kelowna to arrange for utilities to be set up for our tenants and began the usual process of answering the questions of the lady on the other end of the phone.

Now I don’t wish to assume but by the sound of her voice, she was an older lady….or should I say, more mature!! I had only given my name for the set up, but as we progressed, I was absolutely stunned when she asked, “Would you like to add your partner’s name to the contract—in case HE or SHE ever needed to make changes to the bill”?

Now to you Canadian readers—who live in a country where same-sex marriage has been legal for a long time—this might seem like no big deal.  But to me, my heart soared with how wonderful it felt to be equal. To not have to feel that awkward and long moment of quiet judgement as I correct the sales person who asks about my “husband”.  To wait in those seconds of silence to see whether it’s glossed over easily or if I’m about to be hit with the icy tones of discrimination for the rest of the conversation.

More often than not here in Australia, it IS glossed over, and the uncomfortable moment passes for us both.  It gives me hope to know that most people don’t see it as a big deal here and that the time will come for me to wear the white dress of my dreams and marry the love of my life. But in the meantime, the kindness of a stranger in a Kelowna municipal office gave me a taste of what the future holds.

Hat’s off to you, Canada!  Thank you for making me feel equal—if only for a moment.

The photo was taken on a tour through the Rockies that was part of a 5-month adventure for Michelle and Miriam. We were thrilled they visited us in Kelowna before heading to Europe and loved traveling with them in the Rockies. My partner is Michelle’s father. I’m grateful to him for bringing these two special women into my life (and now their daughter – and soon a new sibling). They live on the other side of the world, but we connect regularly via Facetime. When Michelle told us this story, I asked if she would share it on This Gives Me Hope.


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Lydia - March 12, 2013

What a fantastic story!

Is this the same family that you went to visit a year or two? I could have sworn you blogged about spending a few weeks with your grandkids in Australia a while back.

I hope I’m remembering that story correctly and that you’re actually the person who blogged about it. It was such a sweet post. 🙂

    admin - March 12, 2013

    You have an amazing memory, Lydia. This is the same family! Michelle, Miriam and Sunday visited us in Kelowna last September. Now we connect regularly via Facetime and Skype. Not as good as hugs, but we’re very grateful for the technology that makes it possible.

Uncle Darren - March 13, 2013

And as a proud Brother (of Michelle) and Uncle (of little Sunday) I can’t wait for the day to officially celebrate your long overdue Aussie marriage
Change is inevitable. Wish it would just hurry up!

    admin - March 13, 2013

    You brought tears to my eyes, Darren. The change is definitely coming, and we want to be there to witness the marriage.

Hylton Harrington - March 13, 2013

As it should be. A touching story Michelle, thanks for sharing.
Hugs to you and Miriam.
Cathryn, hugs and congratulations for this blog #600! Be well soon, missing your company.

    admin - March 13, 2013

    Thanks, Hylton! So much has changed in our lifetimes – for the better. Before I die, I want this sort of response from city employees, potential employers, etc., to be the norm.

Robin Jarman - March 14, 2013

Thanks Darren for your support for your sister. I am deeply proud of you as my son and brother to Michelle

Donna Rubadeau - March 15, 2013

Beautifully written, Michelle. It reminds me of how proud I am of my adoptive country whose people and laws are so much morre tolerant and accepting those of my native land.

    admin - March 15, 2013

    I really relate to your comment, Donna, and will make sure Michelle sees it.

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