Australia Does Not Recognize Same-Sex Marriage – Widow Says He Was Treated As If He Were 'Nothing'
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Imagine falling in love, marrying, jetting off to beautiful Australia for your honeymoon, and days later your newly-married spouse dies. Then imagine the government saying your marriage does not exist, and refusing to issue a proper certificate of death, instead saying you and your spouse were never married.
That, tragically, is what happened to Marco Bulmer-Rizzi, who told BuzzFeed his story.
“I went to bed and David was to follow me shortly,” Bulmer-Rizzi told Buzzfeed's Patrick Strudwick. “He was just reading his Kindle. I woke up 45 minutes later and heard this awful noise, and I turned on the light and he was lying at the bottom of the stairs in a bloodbath.”
Bulmer-Rizzi does not know exactly what happened, but pointed out it was dark and his husband, David, 32,was unfamiliar with the layout of the home of friends with whom they were staying.
“There were four paramedics on the scene for about an hour trying to attend to him. They put him in an induced coma to avoid further injury. Then they took him to hospital, where I was warned it was critical and that if I needed to phone family that wanted to fly to Australia it was probably appropriate.”
Marco, who is 38, says, “I was told ‘he will die within 24 hours’. There was nothing they could do.”
Sadly, David did die, but compounding the tragedy are Australia's laws. Parts of Australia recognize same-sex marriages performed in other countries, but South Australia does not.
No matter what he did, Marco says all parties involved, from the coroner to the government, said David's death certificate would have to say, “never married.” The British government would not intervene on his behalf.
“It’s degrading," David's father, who flew to Australia immediately, told BuzzFeed. “It demeans my son’s memory and denies their relationship. It’s cast them as second-class citizens. No one should ever have to go through what we’ve gone through. We’re at the bottom and somebody has dug a deeper pit.”
Marco added, as far as the government of Australia is concerned, “I’m nothing.”
Fortunately, likely thanks to the outrage over the past few days on social media fueled by the BuzzFeed article, South Australian premier Jay Weatherill has stepped in.
Weatherill "personally telephoned Marco Bulmer-Rizzi," a new BuzzFeed report, today, states, "to apologise for what happened."
Marco says Weatherill “phoned me directly. We were on the phone for a good 10 minutes. He apologised. He said he would work on ways they can bring a change to avoid this happening in the future.”
“They are looking to actively change it through legislation and he told me it would happen in the next few months. He promised me that they would reissue the death certificate once that has happened.”
Thanking Weatherill, Marco says, “I think it’s amazing. It’s so much further than I ever thought last night when I was wondering what I could do. My mind is blown away that the premier of South Australia called to apologise. It’s such an acknowledgment, coming from the top of the state.”
Image: Screenshot via ABC News/Twitter