David Bulmer-Rizzi in Sydney, Australia

Australian Honeymoon Death Shows Impact Of Marriage Equality

A gay Englishman is living a bureaucratic nightmare in Australia, after his husband died suddenly while the pair were on their honeymoon. David Bulmer-Rizzi, 32, fell down a flight of stairs at the home of friends while he and husband Marco, 38, were visiting. Both Bulmer-Rizzis are citizens of the United Kingdom, where same-sex marriages are recognized, and the pair quietly signed marriage papers in London last summer. But Australia doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, and certain Australian states don’t even recognize same-sex marriages from overseas, so Marco was horrified to learn that his husband’s death certificate declares David “never married.”

David and Marco Bulmer-Rizzi at their wedding in Santorini
David and Marco Bulmer-Rizzi at their wedding in Santorini

The couple had a formal wedding ceremony with friends and family on the Greek island of Santorini before departing for a tour of Australia. Their final stop on the honeymoon was Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. South Australia is one of three major states and territories in Australia that don’t legally recognize same-sex marriages from overseas. David was kept in critical condition until his family arrived from England to say goodbye. Because of the law, David’s father was required to make all decisions related to the funeral arrangements, down to the purchase of the coffin.

“If I didn’t get on with my in-laws I don’t know that I would have any rights,” Marco told BuzzFeed News.

David’s father, 60-year old firefighter Nigel Bulmer, tried to intervene, telling the funeral home that David’s husband should be considered next of kin. “It’s degrading,” says David’s father. “It demeans my son’s memory and denies their relationship. It’s cast them as second-class citizens.”

“He said they shouldn’t talk to him but they kept doing it,” Marco says.

Since the story broke, South Australian premier Jay Weatherill publicly apologized to the family and says that this year he will introduce legislation to recognize overseas same-sex marriages. He referred to the incident as “another example of how senseless discrimination of sexual orientation can cause pain and hurt.” Currently five of Australia’s major states and territories recognize these marriages; South Australia is one of three that don’t, along with Western Australia and the Northern Territories.

Marco Bulmer-Rizzi ia hoping that the British government will provide him a document declaring him David’s next of kin. David was cremated, with his father’s approval, so that Marco can keep the remains when he travels back to England.

(featured image: David Bulmer-Rizzi at the honeymoon stop in Sydney; image via Facebook)