U.S. Ambassador to Australia marries partner of seventeen years

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Openly gay U.S. Ambassador to Australia, John Berry, married his partner of seventeen years, Curtis Lee, on August 10. The small, sentimental ceremony took place at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Washington D.C. with only family and friends in attendance, including Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell. The ceremony was followed by a reception at the newlyweds’ home.

Berry, former director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, was considered the highest-ranking openly gay person in the Obama administration. He is now the first openly gay U.S. ambassador to a Group of Twenty nation.

Same-sex marriage is still illegal in Australia, and the couple’s marriage will not be recognized upon their return. Rodney Croome, National Convener for Australian Marriage Equality and spokesperson for the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group, says Australia’s disregard for the couple’s marriage is an embarrassment.

“It’s a happy time when any couple marries, and I congratulate John Berry and Curtis Lee on their special day and wish them well for their married life together,” said Croome. “Sadly, they join hundreds of other same-sex couples whose overseas same-sex marriages aren’t recognized under Australian law. It will be a source of deep embarrassment for many Australians that our law fails to respect the marriage of the chief representative of our closest friend and ally, the United States.”

Last night, during the first debate of the federal election, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a pledge to introduce a marriage equality bill within the first one hundred days of his next term, should he be re-elected come September 7.

“I support marriage equality,” said Rudd. “I believe this is a mark of decency to same-sex couples across the country and for that to be formalized.”

In November 2010, Berry released an It Gets Better video.

“I was afraid of who I was,” said Berry. “I was afraid that God wouldn’t love me. I was afraid my parents wouldn’t love me. I was afraid I couldn’t be successful in politics. Now I know. God does love me.

“You can love whoever you want.”

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