It was more than 30 years ago that Sandra Yates asked Lee Bransden to give her a job picking apples in an orchard. The two became instant best friends, and have remained so for the past three decades. Both former nurses now retired, living off their pensions and going through the loss of their life savings in a real estate investment that did not work out, the couple has been romantically involved for 8 years now, since Sandra’s marriage ended in divorce. Sadly, Lee suffers from a deadly disease that has given her very little time. Her condition is worsening and her days are numbered, and Lee wants nothing more than to marry Sandra. Unfortunately, with money tight and all that they do have going toward her upcoming funeral, her dying wish seemed all but impossible.
The two ladies live in Tasmania, where same-sex marriage is illegal. The closest country that allows it is New Zealand, but without the funds to go, marriage is out of the question. That’s when Australian Marriage Equality, an advocacy group for gay rights, stepped up and created a crowdfunding campaign with a goal of reaching $6,500 for the couple to head to New Zealand to wed. They’ve now raised more than $8,000 and will wed this week as Lee’s condition has worsened and they are running out of time very quickly.
The generosity of the donations they’ve received from complete strangers has overwhelmed the couple, and they could not be any happier given the dire circumstances at play. Both have been through the worst of times, divorce, financial hardship and Lee’s impending death; but they remain positive and optimistic in the face of so much adversity. They’re just happy that they will finally get the chance to grant Lee’s dying wish of marrying the love of her life.
Photo by Heath Holden