By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com December 20 2012 8:50 PM ET
Ian Hunter has become apparently the first Australian politician to marry a same-sex partner, wedding artist Leith Semmens in Spain Wednesday.
Hunter, the social inclusion minister for the state of South Australia, said he and Semmens were sorry their home country wouldn’t recognize their union, but they couldn’t wait for it to enact a marriage equality law.
“Without a doubt it’s inevitable in Australia, but you’re looking at six or seven years, and me and my partner weren’t willing to wait that long,” Hunter told the Associated Press. Spain has allowed same-sex marriage since 2005.
The two men were married at an art gallery in the town of Jun, in southern Spain, with the city’s mayor officiating. In keeping with a local tradition, they kissed for 17 seconds at the ceremony’s close.
“Hunter, 52, is believed to be the first sitting member of an Australian legislative body to marry a gay partner,” the AP reports. “The former scientist has long been a vocal advocate for gay rights, and a lawmaker in the ruling Labor Party in the South Australian state legislature since 2006. He became a state Cabinet minister last year.”
On the national level, the Labor Party has endorsed marriage equality, but Prime Minister Julia Gillard is opposed.