While on their honeymoon, British citizen David Bulmer-Rizzi, 32, fell down a staircase at a friend’s Adelaide home and fatally cracked his skull.
Due to archaic Australian laws, Marco, 38, was told his husband’s death certificate would have ‘never married’ as his marital status, which means Marco is also denied ‘next of kin’ status and the rights associated with that.
But since the story has lit up the Internet, South Australian premier Jay Weatherill has personally stepped in to offer some comfort.
He has assured Marco that he would introduce legislation to recognise overseas same-sex marriages to state parliament by the end of the year and apologised to the family for the hurt caused by the law.
“I thank [Mr Wetherill]. I think it’s amazing. It’s so much further than I ever thought last night when I was wondering what I could do,” Marco told Fairfax media.
“My mind is blown away that the premier of South Australia called to apologise. It’s such an acknowledgment, coming from the top of the state.”
Not only is same-sex marriage not legal in Australia, but three jurisdictions – South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory – do not recognise same-sex marriages legally performed internationally.
After five years together, David and Marco married in London in 2015 before holding a lavish ceremony in front of friends and family in Greece.
But all of the decisions Marco made around David’s death had to be approved by Marco’s father-in-law, Nigel Bulmer, given South Australia’s outdated stand.
“I was completely overlooked,” says Marco.
“Every single question I was asked – whether or not I wanted David cremated, whether or not I wanted David to have a service, or be washed, even the cost of the coffin they were to use – after I gave my answer David’s father was consulted.
“It was outright discrimination. If I didn’t get on with my in-laws, I don’t know that I would have any rights.”
Marco says he asked whether the marital status section on David’s death certificate could be blank, rather than say ‘never married’, but was told: “No, that’s not one of the drop down options on the computer.”
He says the funeral director continued consulting with Nigel, despite his insistence that Marco should be the person to make the decisions.
“It’s degrading,” Nigel tells Buzzfeed News. “It demeans my son’s memory and denies their relationship.
“It’s cast them as second-class citizens. No one should ever have to go through what we’ve gone through. We’re at the bottom and somebody has dug a deeper pit.”
The South Australian premier has also promised to reissue a death certificate recognising their union as soon as the legislation is passed in the state.