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Let us marry before we die

first_imgA Sydney gay couple in their eighties are appealing for Australia to back same-sex marriage before they die.John Challis (87) and Arthur Cheeseman (80) have been life partners for over 48 years, after meeting at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1967.“We just happened to walk out the door of the gallery together and smiled at each other, and went off and had a cup of coffee and there you are,” said Challis.“We found that we were very compatible, we had a lot of common interests in music, in gardening, in architecture.”With Mr Cheeseman’s health deteriorating in recent years, his partner took to the media recently to complain about the government’s position on gay marriage. “I’m not going to live forever,” Mr Challis said, stressing that his partner “is getting frail”.Mr Challis, who worked for the ABC before retiring in 1988, became one of the leading campaigners for same-sex marriage equality.With the devoted couple having to survive on income from his superannuation, the legal status of marriage would have far-reaching benefits for John and Arthur.“If I had a wife or a female de facto, if I died she would get two thirds of my pension for life. If I die first, Arthur gets nothing. That’s the issue,” he said.Challis has declared his utter disappointment in Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s decision not to resolve the issue until the next election.“We want the right to be able to marry before we die,” he says. “I’m sure our relationship is just as devoted as his … why [should] we be looked at in any different way?” John and Arthur have little interest in any sort of great marriage celebration. Their wish is to attend a registry office in the company of few close friends to ensure their union obtains legal status.“Our relationship has exactly the same status, exactly the same dignity and exactly the same standing as Tony Abbott’s relationship with his wife,” says John. “But the way things are going I doubt if it will happen in my lifetime.”Source: ABC Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more