Read more: Same-sex precedent may be set
IN January this year my partner took his own life in Hobart.
When I found his body I was distraught, disoriented and overwhelmed.
What followed made the situation worse than I could possibly have imagined.
Several hours after his death I was interviewed by the police who told me his mother would be recognised as next-of-kin instead of me, and that she would be given custody of his body.
I contacted the Coroner's Office and was told I could only be considered next-of-kin if I went to the office of Births, Deaths and Marriages and registered our relationship.
When I contacted that office I was told both parties had to agree to registering the union which was now impossible.
At every point, what I was told by these officials was incorrect or misleading.
I didn't know it then, but under Tasmanian law I was deemed to be his significant partner and next-of-kin, even without registering a relationship.
I don't know if the officials I spoke to were ignorant of the law or just felt I didn't deserve the recognition it gave me.
Meanwhile, events cascaded out of my control.
I learnt he would be buried in his hometown of Ulverstone, against his express wish to be cremated in Hobart.
I asked to see his body in hospital but was denied access.
By the time I found a lawyer to help me the body had been released to his family.
By word of mouth I found out when the funeral would be and after negotiations between his family and mine I was able to attend if I sat down the back and said nothing.
The ceremony did not reflect his life and made no mention of our relationship.
My partner was my soul mate and I feel I had a connection with him I will never have with anyone else again.
We had planned to marry in New Zealand, having been engaged for more than a year.
To be treated like I meant nothing to him, and was not even a part of his life, left me feeling like a part of my soul has been crushed into dust.
It's been harder for me to come to terms with his death because when I was trying to see his body and attend his funeral I should have been grieving.
I have been left feeling worthless as a person and questioning why I engage with a society that does not protect my rights.
I know a huge volume of work has been done to remove discrimination, especially in Tasmania, but prejudice is still alive and well, and is still disadvantaging and damaging people like me.
If there is one positive thing to come from what I've been through it is this: it is crystal clear the current legal rights and protections available to same-sex partners are not enough.
It is not enough to be deemed a "significant", "de facto" or "registered" partner when this can be ignored by people in authority.
I believe that if my partner and I had been able to marry under Australian law none of what I have described would have happened.
A marriage certificate would have put my legal rights beyond any doubt with no room left for prejudice or ignorance.
Even if we hadn't planned to marry, the fact of being allowed to marry would have made a major difference to how we were seen.
Marriage equality will send a message to every estranged parent and indifferent official across Australia that they can no longer disregard and disrespect the equal rights of same-sex partners.
I hope my story wakes up all those politicians who say "gays have all the rights they need already" because clearly we don't really have these rights while they can be so easily ignored.
I hope it shows them that a marriage certificate is more than "just a piece of paper" because being denied this piece of paper can make huge difference to how much respect we are shown.
I hope my story adds to the momentum for marriage equality so no-one else has to go through what I went through.
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