Wedding protest: Block your ears at 'union of man and woman'

Sutherland Shire couple Abigail and Mitchell Johnston did a silent protest at their wedding in support of same sex marriage. Pictures: Thomas Stewart.
Sutherland Shire couple Abigail and Mitchell Johnston did a silent protest at their wedding in support of same sex marriage. Pictures: Thomas Stewart.

IT WAS a simple gesture that swarmed across social media.

But newlyweds Abbey and Mitchell Johnston, 22, never expected their photos of a symbolic act to go viral. 

This is what’s happened since they got married earlier this year  — no doubt bumped along by last week’s decision by the US Supreme Court to legally recognise same-sex marriage in that country.

Their move proved popular around the world, with US actor Ashton Kutcher sharing their wedding photos on his social media. (see below).

The Sutherland Shire couple — supporters for same sex marriage — asked their guests to cover their ears while the celebrant spoke the words that their union was between a ‘‘man and a woman’’.

It is required by law to read out loud the precise statement known as the monitum at the ceremony.

But the bride and groom had a plan to block it out.

With her bouquet in one hand, Mrs Johnston cupped her ear with the other.

She thought of the idea after she read an article about celebrants turning their microphones down during the mandatory monitum.

Not just between a man and a woman: Friends and family join in the protest at the Johnstons' wedding. Photo: Thomas Stewart

Not just between a man and a woman: Friends and family join in the protest at the Johnstons' wedding. Photo: Thomas Stewart

‘‘Then it hit me [to do this], and Mitchell said he loved it,’’ she said. ‘‘To my knowledge it hadn’t been done before.

‘‘We ran it past our celebrant and she respected our request.

‘‘It was a small act of defiance. We wanted to do something special — to stand up to something that was important to us. 

‘‘To say to the government ‘we are not OK with this.’

‘‘I fear one day my future children will ask ‘mum did you get married when same-sex marriage was not legal?’

Mrs Johnston posted her photos on Facebook in the same week the US announced its reforms to make same sex marriage legal in all states, which led to an influx of rainbow-themes profile pictures across global news feeds.

‘‘I posted the pictures in light of the recent changes by the US, to let my friends know that Mitchell and I can’t wait for the day that Australia has marriage equality for all,’’ she said.

‘‘We only had 17 people at our wedding. I never intended for our photos to go viral — we did this because we don’t believe in the segregation, we believe in love.’’

Silent protest: Sutherland Shire couple Abbey and Mitchell Johnston have captured the world’s attention with their wedding photos in support of same-sex marriage. Pictures: Thomas Stewart.

Silent protest: Sutherland Shire couple Abbey and Mitchell Johnston have captured the world’s attention with their wedding photos in support of same-sex marriage. Pictures: Thomas Stewart.

The reactions were positive with  ‘‘overwhelming thanks from strangers’’ who saw their post.

‘‘I don’t know if it made an impact but there have been articles written in different languages in about 13 different countries. There are people who don’t agree with what we did but the amount of ‘shares’ and ‘likes’ we received far outweigh the few negative comments. 

‘‘We want to look back and smile when Australia finally accepts marriage equality and know that  we did something for it ourselves.’’

MP says his conservative voters approve

By Murray Trembath

HEATHCOTE MP Lee Evans believes the community is in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, and says ‘‘it’s time to get on with it’’.

‘‘When I was first elected [in 2011], I met with representatives of all church groups in my electorate,’’ he told State Parliament.

‘‘The first question I asked them was, ‘What do you think about marriage equality?’

‘‘Surprisingly, in the conservative Heathcote electorate, they all said they agreed with it.

‘‘They have their own issues within their own churches about being able to marry same-sex couples, but all the ministers and reverends agreed that they were open to the idea of marriage equality.’’

Mr Evans said people in NSW had ‘‘reached the point where it is time to get on with it’’.

‘‘If the conservative people of Heathcote realise and accept it is time to allow people to do their own thing without interference from government members or anyone else, we have evolved and we can move forward on this issue,’’ he said.

A motion moved by Sydney MP Alex Greenwich was passed by the Parliament.

It recognised members had various views, urged ‘‘a respectful debate’’ in Federal Parliament and noted the importance of members being free to express their own and electors’ views.

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