Norrie and Sam challenge the marriage ban

Issue 
Norrie and Sam. Photo: Rachel Evans

Norrie has spent a lot of time in the offices of the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM). When Norrie went on October 28, it was for love and equality.

Norrie is sex non-specific — neither man nor woman. Five years ago, Norrie went to the office to get them to change zie's (the pronoun for a person of non-specific sex) birth certificate to read “sex: non-specific”.

BDM complied, but the New South Wales state government appealed. It took four years and an April 2014 High Court ruling for Norrie to be formally recognised as sex non-specific.

The Marriage Amendment Act, enacted in 2004 by conservative PM John Howard, discriminates against same-sex couples and sex and gender non-binary people. It only allows marriage between a “man and a woman, exclusive of all others”.

Nevertheless, Norrie wanted to marry Sam, and after getting past reception, they sat down to wait for an interview with registry officials.

A crew from the ABC, who were on-site filming people for the series “Hatch, Match, Dispatch”, approached Norrie and Sam.

Finally, Norrie, Sam and the film crew made it into the small interview room where they were told that the Marriage Act prohibited them from being able to get married as “Norrie is sex non-specific, and Sam is a man.”

“Could we have it in writing that your office will not allow me to marry?” Norrie asked. The official said they would have to get back to them on that.

Speaking with Norrie after we left the office, zie said: “It's necessary to open our peripheries to all people who are marginalised by a lack of equality in the eyes of the law. Transgender, non-binary and intersex people need visibility and solidarity in their struggle for marriage and legal sex assignment.

“We have to stop pretending that preventing non-binary people from self-determining their gender and sex and preventing their marriages is helping our society in any way.”

None of this has deterred Norrie: zie has fought state and federal governments before and won.

[Norrie will be speaking at the marriage equality rally organised by Community Action Against Homophobia at Sydney Town Hall on November 7 at 1pm.]

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