August 12, 2013 at 10:32 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Gay U.S. ambassador to Australia marries partner
John Berry, Australia, Curtis Yee, gay news, Washington Blade

U.S. Ambassador to Australia John Berry (left) married his partner Curtis Yee (Photo courtesy Australian Marriage Equality).

The openly gay and newly confirmed U.S. ambassador to Australia married his partner in D.C. on Saturday in a ceremony that an Australian LGBT group is drawing attention to in its push to legalize marriage equality in that country.

John Berry, whom the Senate confirmed by voice vote last month to his post, married his partner of 17 years Curtis Yee at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in D.C.

According to a statement from the couple, attendees included Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell Music as well as family and close friends. Music was provided by Theodore Guerrant and soloist, Christian Hoff.

Prior to being U.S. ambassador to Australia, Berry was director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and considered the highest-ranking openly gay person in the Obama administration. He’s now the first openly gay person to serve as a U.S. ambassador to a G-20 nation.

Rodney Croome, national convener for Australian Marriage Equality, congratulated the newly-weds, but said the failure to recognize their union in Australia, where same-sex marriage isn’t legal, will be a source of embarrassment for the country.

“Sadly, they join hundreds of other same-sex couples whose overseas same-sex marriages aren’t recognised under Australian law,” Croome said. “It will be a source of deep embarrassment for many Australians that our law fails to respect the marriage of the chief representative of our closest friend and ally, the United States.”

During a debate earlier this month, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd pledged to introduce a marriage equality bill within the first 100 days of the new government if its elected on Sept. 7.

“Within the first 100 days of a re-elected government, a bill would come from forth … to legalize marriage equality,” Rudd said. “We would, of course, on our side of politics, allow a conscience vote.”

In that same debate, Tony Abbott leader of the opposition party in Australia wouldn’t commit to a conscience vote, saying parliament had already determined the issue “decisively.

Croome commended Rudd for his commitment and said his opposition should make the same promise.

“Kevin Rudd’s commitment is a reminder not just that marriage equality is important, but that it is urgent,” Croome said. “This increases pressure on Tony Abbott to commit to a conscience vote so marriage equality can finally be passed.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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