|We are sharing some of the thousands of submissions being made for marriage equality. In an equally heart-breaking and inspiring piece, Ralph Jaeger writes: “My mum and sister wanted to see me married, not ‘civil unioned’.”
If you would like to share your submission, just email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to remove names for more sensitive submissions.
Ralph and his mum, just two weeks before she passed away When I came out at nearly 40, my mother said to me “Finally, I have been waiting for you to tell me for so long. I love you and I am so proud of you. You deserve to be happy my beautiful son. I love you”. My whole family wrapped me in their arms and made me feel loved and accepted.
For so long before I came out I felt unworthy of love. I lacked self-esteem and honestly believed no-one would ever really love me, let alone want to spend the rest of their life with me.
And then I met Rob.
We were the classic Internet relationship. We started as friends, in different countries, and flirted for months before finally meeting up for the first time in Melbourne for a coffee. Coffee turned into lunch, lunch turned into dinner, dinner turned into breakfast. Our coffee ended in us spending a week together before both of us flew back to our respective home cities, Rob in Perth and me back in Christchurch. Within two weeks we were in a relationship, and within a year Rob had made the momentous decision to leave Australia and come live with me in Christchurch. I began to believe that not only did Rob love me, but that I might just actually deserve it.
And two weeks after Rob arrived in Christchurch, mother earth decided to bring our city low. That year was so tough on everyone in Christchurch, and we had our struggles. This is my first proper relationship and I had so much to learn, but the amazing fact of Rob actually loving me made it bearable. During that first year together I became more and more sure that this was the man I planned to spend my life with. I secretly had a ring designed and made, and in February this year I surprised him with a proposal.
I asked Rob to marry me.
My family was ecstatic. They loved Rob as much as I do, and my terminally ill sister told me many times how happy she was that we had found each other, and how sad she was that she would never get to see us married.
She died two months after I proposed to Rob. It was a sad time but she had been ill for so long that we had time to prepare and say all the things we needed to say.
Six weeks later my beautiful, wonderful, accepting mother died unexpectedly in her sleep. A huge hole was ripped in the centre of my life and Rob was there to keep me going. When we suddenly became guardians to my orphaned niece he never once complained or decided it was too hard.
How could I not want to marry this man?
And that is the crux of the matter for me. I proposed marriage to Rob, not a civil union. I asked him to marry me, not “civil union” me. My mum and sister wanted to see me married, not “civil unioned”.
And then something wonderful happened. Louisa Wall’s Marriage Equality Bill was pulled from the ballot.
I deserve to marry the man I love. I deserve to have my love recognized as equal under the law. My love *is* equal.
I ask that the MPs who supported Louisa Wall’s bill in its first reading please continue to support it through to the third. Support our love; support my right to marry the man I love. Ralph Jaeger - 8th December 2012