Rugby star David Pocock weds after eight-year equal marriage protest

Rugby player David Pocock and with wife Emma Palandri

Australian rugby union star David Pocock has finally married his long-time girlfriend, eight years after the pair took a vow to not wed until gay couples were allowed to do so.

David Pocock, who plays for Australia’s national rugby union team the Wallabies, said in 2010 that he would not legally marry his long-term partner Emma Palandri until all couples in the country were able to marry.

Same-sex marriage was finally legalised in Australia in 2017 after a public postal vote, paving the way for Pocock’s wedding to finally go ahead this week—eight years later than planned.

David Pocock weds Emma Palandri

David Pocock shared a photo from his wedding to Emma Palandri on Twitter.

The pair held a small private dress-down ceremony on December 2, as they finally tied the knot and submitted the paperwork to marry.

On Twitter, Pocock confirmed: “Married my best mate yesterday.”

“Emma and I decided not to get legally married until our gay friends could do the same.”

— David Pocock in 2010

Speaking about their decision not to marry in 2010, David Pocock had told the New Zealand Herald: “Being brought up in a Christian home and still identifying as Christian, I get pretty annoyed with the Christian lobbies around the world who say gay marriage destroys the family and all that kind of rubbish.

“They claim to follow someone who always stood up for the oppressed and marginalized.

“I guess it is a fear of the unknown – if you talk to someone who doesn’t like gay people you can almost guarantee that they don’t know too many.

“These are the prejudices that you have to challenge and break down. Emma and I decided not to get legally married until our gay friends could do the same.”

Straight celebrities who vowed not to marry

Several high-profile straight couples made similar promises to David Pocock and Emma Palandri, though few have actually managed to stick out the commitment and make it to their wedding day.

Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie famously made a 2006 pledge to not wed until there was equal marriage across the US.

The couple later changed their minds and got married in 2014—a year before same-sex marriage was legalised in the US—with LGBT activists branding the U-turn a “slap in the face” given the continued ban on gay weddings at the time of their wedding.

Pitt and Jolie announced their separation in 2016.

Charlize Theron also made a pledge not to marry her then-partner Stuart Townsend in 2009, but the pair had long since split by the time equal marriage came about in the US.

Another star who made the pledge was Kylie Minogue. She said in 2016 that she would not marry fiancé Joshua Sasse until equal marriage was introduced in Australia. The pair split months later.

David Pocock has challenged homophobia in sport

Pocock, a strong supporter of LGBT+ rights, has previously spoken out against homophobic abuse in rugby.

In 2015, the player complained to a referee about homophobic remarks allegedly used by members of the New South Wales Waratahs during a match against the Brumbies.

He said: “As players, we’ve said the Brumbies aren’t going to tolerate any homophobic slurs, I just made that clear to the referee that it’s unacceptable.

“You can be the toughest man in the world, but it’s got nothing to do with using that sort of language.

“I certainly haven’t heard much in the last few years.

“In the last year or two Australian rugby has started to address [it]… there’s no room for homophobic language in our sport and we want to make it inclusive.

“Our job as players is to quell it out. That’s what we did, I don’t think it should be a witch hunt. It’s about educating the players and ensuring that rugby does become more inclusive.”

The player also had a “talk” with Wallabies teammate Israel Folau after he made homophobic remarks.