People throughout Australia are rejoicing after the country voted to legalize gay marriage earlier this week. The two most excited people may be longtime partners John Challis and Arthur Cheeseman.
Challis, 89, and Cheeseman, 85, are believed to be Australia’s oldest same-sex couple. The two have been together for 50 years after they met at an art gallery in 1967. Now that gay marriage is legal in Australia, the two are planning to get married in January. The couple says that the right to get married “gives us a new dignity.”
Cheeseman admits to being “very nervous” about the nationwide survey relating to gay marriage. For many years, he doubted that he and Challis would live to see the day when gay marriage would be legal in Australia. But with nearly 80% of Australians participating, over 60% voted in favor of gay marriage.
“It is not just endorsing gay marriage – it is endorsing gay and lesbian people,” said Cheeseman. “It gives us a new dignity, a new status, a new place in society. We are the same as everyone else.”
Of course, while members of the LGBTQ community and their supporters throughout the world celebrated Australia’s decision with great enthusiasm, Challis and Cheeseman are striving to keep things low-key for their January wedding. They are excited to be getting married, but “not with any fuss.”
“Very simple,” Cheeseman said of the ceremony the couple will plan for January. “That’s it. I have got a 90th birthday coming up next year. We might combine it with that.”