A toast to Jon Stanhope!

How many wedding celebrations include a toast to the Chief Minister?

Deborah May, pragmatic idealist, change agent and champion of women and leadership writes:

How many wedding celebrations include a toast to the Chief Minister?

On Saturday night I was among 200 people dressed in black and white, at a wedding (p)reception at Albert Hall. It was the party before their private ceremony scheduled for 10am on the 10/10/10.

Guests included women dressed as nuns, an altar boy, two women in blonde bee hive wigs as tall as Marge Simpson’s and two in black and white checked miniskirts and knee high white patent leather boots. Men were similarly dapper in waistcoats, shirts and cummerbunds of black and white stripes, checks and dots.

The crowd was an eclectic and vibrant mix of artists, writers, musicians, small business folk, academics and a sprinkling of public servants. Our hosts, the two we were there to celebrate, out-shone the rest with liberal splashes of scarlet satin. The room resounded with laughter, music from half a dozen local musicians and the thumping and scraping of boots dancing and stamping on the polished wooden floor.

The speeches described the love shared between these two exuberant beaming people, how they were well matched and so happy. We heard memorable stories of good times and were then asked us to raise our glasses not just to the brides but also to “the wonderful Jon Stanhope” without whom they could not have legalised their commitment to each other.

Reflecting on this very joyous event, I feel fortunate to live in a city where these wonderful women have the right to not only legalise their union but have their love and commitment publicly acknowledged and celebrated. I also contemplated the appeal our inclusive city has to people within the arts community, musicians, creatives and intellectuals who too often go unnoticed in the dominant and somewhat beige landscape of the Australian Public Service.

That night, Albert Hall was a metaphor for life in Canberra: if you look beyond the black and white you will find a diverse social fabric made of some extraordinarily colourful, vibrant and creative people who shimmer, sparkle and shine in clusters within the city.

A toast, I think is justified to the vision and leadership of the ACT’s Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope.

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