We Won Another Thing! New Zealand Passes Same-Sex Marriage!

After last Tuesday’s reading in France and Thursday’s vote in Uruguay, it seemed the world was going crazy for marriage equality. But as it turns out, the world wasn’t finished! Gay marriage passes in New Zealand today! We won yet another thing you guys!

On Wednesday evening, New Zealand’s Parliament sat through its third reading on the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. Unlike other bills, it was presented to MPs as a conscience vote — they were encouraged to vote with their hearts regardless of their parties’ views. By the end of the evening they bill passed 77 to 44, causing the packed gallery to erupt into a Traditional Maori song.

The evening started with a heartfelt speech by Louisa Wall, the member that introduced the bill. Clad in a rainbow blazer, the Labour MP for Manurewa addressed her fellow MPs and audience members on the motivations behind Bill 39-2. Taking note of the changing international climate towards same-sex couples and families, she addressed the concerns raised by the nay-sayers and the supporters. She reiterated that religious institutions would be respected by not forcing them to wed those they disagreed with, but at the same time same-sex couples deserved a modicum of the respect that’s afforded to their heterosexual brothers and sisters. Remembering a woman that had the shocking realization that she may have no legal ties to the daughter she raised for eighteen years, Wall re-introduced the bill not as a way to push heterosexual families apart, but as a way to bring all families together.

The US President has declared his support unequivocally. The Queen has recently signed a Commonwealth Charter that explicitly opposes all form of discrimination which she describes as emphasising inclusiveness. The UK, led by their Prime Minister, has introduced legislation.

Excluding a group in society from marriage is oppressive and unacceptable. Today we’re embarrassed and appalled by these examples. And in every instance it was action by the state. This is not about church teachings or philosophy. It never has been. It’s about the State excluding people from the institution of marriage because of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. And that’s no different from the actions taken in these historical examples.

Law that allows all people to enjoy that state is the right thing to do. Law that prohibits people from enjoying that state is just wrong.  Those who celebrate religious or cultural marriage are absolutely unaffected by this Bill. That has never been part of the State’s marriage law.  And it never should be.

In our society the meaning of marriage is universal – it’s a declaration of love and commitment to a special person.

via @nzlabour

Presenting 1100+ signatures via @nzlabour

The bill ammends the Marriage Act of 1955 to broaden the definition of marriage to “the union of two people regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.” It’ll allow same-sex couples to adopt children and more importantly, their partner’s children. Wall got the ball rolling last May when she delivered over a thousand messages to Prime Minister John Key supporting marriage equality. Wall’s bill was drawn from the ballot July 26th and made it through its first reading by a margin of 80 to 40 the following month. They accepted submissions until late October, publishing the Select Committee’s report in February of this year. The bill survived the second reading on March 13th, passing 77 to 44.

Even though Wall was at the forefront, plenty of people worked towards this day. The Campaign for Marriage Equality included over 29 groups working together to garner support on a local and national level. LegaliseLove broadened their role from an event planning group tackling homophobia and transphobia to a national group supporting marriage and adoption equality. Additionally, Wall thanked Prime Minister John Key, Labour leader David Shearer, Act leader John Banks, United Future leader Peter Dunne, Mana leader Hone Harawira and Maori Party co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia for their efforts.  Kevin Hague, the Green Party MP in charge of Rainbow Issues was equally elated with Bill 39-2’s passing.

New Zealand has just joined a growing group of countries that are embracing love and acceptance over fear and exclusion. The passing of marriage equality today brings a huge benefit to many people, and no harm to anyone at all. Marriage equality extends religious freedoms, it doesn’t restrict them. When I first got together with my partner, 29 years ago, the message sent by the law could not have been clearer; we were outsiders and did not belong. Today Parliament has sent a message to the rainbow community that we do belong without having to compromise who we are.

Auckland Pride via Jackson Perry

Auckland Pride via Jackson Perry

New Zealanders need to wait for Governor-General Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae’s  rubber stamp (aka Royal Assent) before turning their eyes to the Department of Internal Affairs. Jeff Montgomery, the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages says that if everything goes well,  gay August weddings are in the cards. Their four month timeline includes amending the current forms and certificates (while keeping the designations bride and bridegroom), updating the computer registry to accomodate same-sex couples and creating informative guidelines for the public.

Once all of the red tape is cleared, getting a marriage license will be a piece of wedding cake regardless of your orientation. Montgomery explains that, “A couple would apply for a marriage licence using the new form to be available on the day the Act comes into force. Three days after the completed form is received by the Department,  a marriage licence would be ready for collection and a marriage can take place.” Couples already in civil unions can wed their partners without dissolving their partnerships. They’ll submit a change of relationship notice with the corresponding fees before visiting a marriage celebrant or the Registry Office.

Although Wall has successfully cleared the way for her LGBTI brothers and sisters, she has yet to plan her own nuptials with partner Prue Kapua. Back in 2011, a civil union satisfied her needs for formality, so she is no rush to change her relationship. But if they do decide to celebrate her hard work, she won’t be the only one there as several celebrities and over a thousand Australians have promised to fully celebrate New Zealand’s win.

Two-thirds of parliament have endorsed marriage equality. It shows that we are building on our human rights as a country. – Louisa Wall

 

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Hailing from Vancouver, Kristen's still trying to figure out how to survive Montreal's Real Legitimate Canadian Winter. So far she's discovered that warm socks, giant toques and Tabby kittens all play a role in her survival. Her ultimate goal is to rank higher than KStew in the "Kristen + Autostraddle" Google Search competition.

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28 Comments

  1. Thumb up 2

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    This is the best thing ever! New Zealand is where my heart is. I went to New Zealand in 2010 and fell in love. It’s such a great place with such great people. Seriously. There aren’t any assholes in the entire country, I swear. They deserve this! I hope to visit again next year :)

    Also, the video of the public singing the Maori love song is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I would have loved to been there!

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    This is a great post. I got really drunk watching the bill pass and then had like five dreams about getting married to a lady, so I think safe to say I’m happy about this.

    buuuut this bothers me a little: “Back in 2011, a civil union satisfied her needs for formality, so she is no rush to upgrade her relationship.” Civil unions in New Zealand bear almost identical legal rights to marriage; they’re available to opposite-sex as well as same-sex couples, and they will continue to be available to people who aren’t interested in marriage. Marriage equality is important, but it’s not necessary to run down someone else’s relationship by claiming that getting married would be an upgrade, is it?

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      I am kind of in love with Louisa after seeing her in action and I’m so embarassed to have disrespected her like that. I wasn’t thinking clearly and that was definitely poor wording on my part. Thanks for pointing it out.

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    Hooray! Everything about this makes me so happy and proud to be a Kiwi. Love a bit of spontaneous harmonised singing in Parliament as well. I’m living in London at the moment, which is one of the most diverse cities in the world, but I know where I’d rather be at the right now. I’m so looking forward to moving home later this year :)

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    That’s awesome news for New Zealand. It’s great to finally hear they’ve caught up to our social policies here in America! Oh wait, we’re the ones lagging behind. C’mon America, you’re playing catch up here!

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    Let the “gay onslaught” begin. But seriously, I’m so happy this passed. I have an MP crush on Louisa Wall. I must admit I was kind of shocked that John Banks (only member of the most right wing party in parliament and well known creationist) voted for the bill. Good on him.

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    When this passed I got a text from my mum saying ‘You can get married now!’
    I managed to stay dry-eyed through the entire reading but this was the thing that just about made me cry.

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    I’m a kiwi, and last night, a group of us bunched in to Rainbow Youth (our local youth organisation for the rainbow comunity) where we all watched. It was the most proud moment of my life! After it passed, going out on to the street was spectacular! We were all in tears of joy and screaming our hearts out!
    Quote from the night, “this makes me more proud to be a kiwi than i was when we won the rugby world cup!

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    Yay NZ!

    Also, also the song they sing – “Pokarekare Ana” – is a very “World Famous in New Zealand” and very appropriate love song.

  9. Thumb up 2

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    This unexpectedly made be burst into tears.

    I’ve never been so glad to have a New Zealand passport. I grew up in the UK and loved visiting NZ but family stuff there has become so complicated that I haven’t felt very positive about it in quite a while. This has made me feel incredibly grateful for my New Zealand heritage.

    I had a musical doll that played Pokarekare Ana as a child and hearing that sung at the end felt so good. I’m not out to anyone in my family as yet, and irrational as it may be this felt like being accepted.

    I’m so incredibly grateful.

  10. Thumb up 2

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    I WAS CRYING

    and then I went down the marriage equality tag on tumblr and made about 50 new NZ friends

    AND LOUISA WALL’S SPEECH

    AND HER RAINBOW STRIPED JACKET

    AND MAURICE WILLIAMSON AND MOJO MATHERS SPEECHES

    seriously look them up they were awesome

    AND POKAREKARE ANA

    AND MY ENTIRE FACEBOOK FEED WAS CELEBRATIONS

    It was a proud, proud night for me guys. Why didn’t you tell me marriage equality would feel this good?

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    Overwhelming joy and beauty tears. My heart grew at least 3 sizes watching the kiwi parliament this week.

    I now have an MP crush on Louisa Wall too.

    Beautiful NZ, if I ever find a wife you might be my destination wedding!

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    I cried when I saw this the first time. Then I decided I wanted to move to NZ. A country with a parliament that bursts into celebratory song after passing an equality bill is definitely my kind of country!

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