Australia: Greens Senator ‘very proud’ to be in same-sex marriage after wife’s transition

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A newly-elected senator grilled on Australian national radio about remaining married to her transgender wife has said she is “very proud” of being in a same-sex marriage and stressed it is “possible to stay together”.

Senator Janet Rice has been elected in Victoria as the tenth Greens representative in the Australian Senate. She and her wife Penny, who was assigned male at birth and began transitioning 11 years ago, have been married for 28 years. She said their marriage has remained legally valid, although same-sex couples cannot yet marry in Australia.

Sen. Rice was interviewed today (Wednesday) on ABC News. Following a segment in which she discussed her thoughts on immigration and the rising number of refugees in Australia, she was asked about her “unconventional home life”, to which she replied, “I think we’re pretty normal”.

“We were married, and then Penny transitioned from Peter to Penny – we stayed married, and we still love each other.

“We’re very proud of our status as one of the very few same-sex couples in Australia who have been legally married here, and we really want other Australian same-sex couples to have the same opportunities as us.”

She took the opportunity to address one of the key issues around gender transitioning, saying: “I think it is a good example for transgender couples; because a lot of them, their relationships do break up, but it is possible to stay together. And, as I said, we’re just the same; we’re the same loving couple that we were then.”

Speaking about the acceptance she has experienced, she said: “With same-sex marriage in general, we just need to get over the debate in Australia. We need to accept and legalise same-sex marriage, like in the UK and in New Zealand… five minutes later we’ll be saying ‘what’s the issue?’”

As the interview became even more personal, questioning her own sexuality and the impact of the transitions on her sons, Sen. Rice attempted to redirect the conversation. “I can’t understand why there’s so much interest in it,” she said, “because as far as we’re concerned, we’re just an average, everyday Australian couple.”

“I think [acknowledging diversity] is probably a very important thing in my politics,” she concluded. “Yes, I’m here as a senator, but I’m here as an equal with the people I’m representing, of huge amounts of difference and diversity.”