Being a Migration agent who specialises in partner visas I claim to have one of the best jobs in the world. Day in day out I help Australians who have fallen in love with someone from another country keep their partner here in Australia or bring their loved one to Australia so they can live their happily ever after. Modern day cupid right?\r\n\r\nAs a partner visa specialist I know first hand that no two relationships are the same, but regardless of how you fell in love, how you show your love and where your love story started as Australians we should all be afforded the same rights and opportunities when it comes to the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.\r\n\r\nThe right to marry your beloved with legal recognition is currently restricted to heterosexual couples, a man, and woman. Same sex couples are excluded from legal marriage. Now don\u2019t get me started on why marriage equality is a must. Let me instead share with you how the current laws affect same sex couple\u2019s going through the partner visa program.\r\n\r\nFirstly there are two visa categories available to the partners of Australians:\r\n\r\nThe prospective marriage visa and\r\nThe partner visa.\r\nCouple\u2019s in same sex relationships can\u2019t apply for a prospective marriage visa. Why? Because of the Marriage Act. The Prospective marriage visa is granted to people who are planning to marry in Australia within 9 months of the visa being granted. For couples in same sex relationships and in some cases transgender, your are prevented from applying for a prospective marriage visa. \u00a0\r\n\r\nHaving both options is important because again no two relationships are the same. Lawmakers obviously saw a need for both options and these two visa options give couple\u2019s a choice based on which suits their circumstances best. Well heterosexual couples, not same sex couples.\r\n\r\nNow let me explain some of the requirements of the partner visa so you see why it\u2019s important to have both options available especially for same sex couples:\r\n\r\nThe partner visa, unlike the prospective marriage visa, includes a requirement for couples to prove one of the following:\r\n\r\nLawfully married (in any country) but this again is only for heterosexual couples OR\r\nHave registered civil union in Australia. Civil union is a sub par law available in only some States/or Territories so it\u2019s not available to everyone and if you\u2019re an Aussie overseas with your partner it\u2019s not an option OR\r\nYou must have lived together in a 12 month de facto relationship before applying for the visa.\r\nThe 12 month de facto requirement can be difficult for some same sex couple\u2019s as in some countries it\u2019s illegal for gay or lesbian couples to live together or it\u2019s difficult for them to be open about their relationship. It means to meet the de facto requirement some couples have to travel to different countries to meet up and spend time together. And while the Migration Act does allow for a waiver of the 12-month de facto relationship in compassionate and compelling circumstances, this is on a case by case basis and it is certainly not as straightforward.\r\n\r\nAnother requirement for the partner visa is proving to the decision maker the nature of your commitment; this can mean proving you're serious about the relationship and you see it as long term. With heterosexual couples who are married, we can prove their serious given they\u2019ve gone the process of marriage because marriage is a big deal to most for many reasons. It could be argued in proving your commitment it seems in some cases marriage carries more weight than registration of relationship or civil union. In a recent decision from the Department of Immigration a decision-maker gave little weight to a registration of relationship certificate given and I quote \u2018how easy it is to obtain\u2019\r\n\r\nDon\u2019t get me wrong, I\u2019m not knocking the decision-maker. I get it. So do people in same sex relationships. The significance of marriage is different to civil union or registration of relationship.\r\n\r\nMarriage equality is about equal status for Australians and their loved one, in all areas of law including the migration act. It goes without saying at Freedom Migration we support marriage equality for our clients, our friends, our neighbours, our family and our colleagues. As Australians, we should all be afforded the same rights and opportunities when it comes to the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.