On May 17 people all over Australia will stand against discrimination in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) mates, colleagues and families. In celebration of the positive change that’s happened in Australia for LGBTIQ people over the past 6 months, KPMG Enterprise Partner, Heather Hicks, shares her story of her recent marriage to her wife, Kate.
Seven years ago, my partner Kate and I stood at the top of Mount Nelson in Hobart, Tasmania, and made our commitment to each other by registering our relationship under Tasmania’s Relationships Act.
In front of our closest family and friends, who had travelled from all over the globe, we walked down the aisle, had readings, made our vows to each other and then celebrated in style. That commitment meant everything to us. However, at every wedding we’ve been to, the words that the celebrant has to say, “marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman”, continued to reinforce a prejudice that seemed to jar with everyday society as we experienced it.
Last month, on the 7th year anniversary of our commitment to each other, Kate and I chose to transform the ‘7 year itch’ into the ‘7 year hitch’ as we eloped to the breathtaking Tasmanian East Coast. To finally hear those words, “marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people” was more emotional and more important than I could have ever imagined. This time, our ceremony was witnessed by many on-lookers. While we are both mature and strong enough not to care or worry what they thought about seeing two brides, it was clear to us that the rest of the Australia appeared ready to embrace a more equal and respectful society.
As a KPMG Partner and someone who has been with the firm for 14 years, I feel proud of our truly inclusive workplace, of our leaders and all of our people. I feel lucky to have navigated my professional career without any fear of bringing my whole self to work. In fact, on the 7th December last year when Australia became the 25th country to legalise same-sex marriage, I was travelling with a client when the survey results were announced. It turns out my client didn’t know I was gay but when he realised and the survey results were revealed we celebrated together. He said, “about bloody time”. A classic Aussie response and another example of how many Australians felt this was a long time coming.
In 2017 I became KPMG Australia’s co-Chair of Pride@KPMG, the network for Partners and staff dedicated to creating an environment where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people feel welcome and valued. Through this network we celebrate and promote inclusion while influencing and advocating for positive change in attitudes towards LGBTI+ people. We have an amazing network of LBGTI+ members and allies who individually and collectively make a significant difference to what it means to work at KPMG.
So what does marriage equality mean? For Kate and me it means our children will grow up knowing that Mum and Mummy really are married. For us, we know that as a family we have the protection and support of the law. There is now no question of our rights and responsibilities for each other and this provides significant further protection from discrimination. But ultimately, I honestly hope this change in law means young people can grow up proud of who they are, knowing the law will treat them no differently to their friends of family simply because of who they love. That by making marriage equality law, our relationships become the new normal and no big deal.
Love is love.