In a surprisingly well-covered event Gay Marriage is now law in Aotearoa, making New Zealand the first country in the Asia-Pacific to do so. Although, that is perhaps not the greatest achievement given that the Asia-Pacific region largely consists either of hilariously tiny Christianity-crazed Pacific island nations, or decidedly illiberal Asian nations that are still on their way to legalising chewing gum. Still, New Zealand is officially more socially liberal than Australia, that’s something.
I can’t say I am really going to miss my Twitter feed being clogged up with #marriageequality tweets. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely for it(I am generally in favour of things that do not affect me in the slightest), it was just ridiculous how long the whole saga dragged on for, given that there didn’t really seem to be much in the argument against the bill. I don’t mean to say there are no arguments against gay marriage, but watching New Zealand’s comedy troupe of marriage defenders was ridiculous. Seriously, it was like the anti-Gay marriage crowd had been taken over by pro-Gay marriage saboteurs, infiltrating their side and putting forth all manner of poorly argued points of view in order to discredit them.
You had a legion of homeboy-wannabe evangelical tweeters tweeting things like ‘John Key U stupid’, then you had the leader of the Conservatives – the only ginger-haired man in the world who looks worse without facial hair – going around and, somewhat ironically, calling other people ‘not intelligent’. Add in a set of geriatrics to the list who only believe that marriage is between a man and a woman – unless that man is bearded and wants to fly on a plane – and you have a fully-fledged comedy act.
New Zealand owes a debt of thanks to these people for being so hilariously incompetent in their defence of ‘traditional’ marriage. They made it easy for New Zealand to jump onto the gay marriage bandwagon. And it’s lucky New Zealand has jumped onto it now, because other countries are fast catching up. Younger evangelicals in the US now appear to be mildly pro-gay marriage, and the US Sunday morning talk shows are filled with commentators expressing their amazement at how quickly public opinion has turned in favour of it. Australia might miss out this time if Abbott doesn’t allow his party a confidence vote, but even if he doesn’t, public opinion will make legalisation unavoidable at some point.
From a political science perspective, and in the fullness of time, it will be interesting to examine whether the passage of the Civil Union Bill helped or hindered the cause of gay marriage. On the one hand it gave opponents the argument that gay couples already had the same rights as straight couples. But on the other hand, it also showed New Zealanders that the sky wouldn’t fall if the state officially recognised such unions.
Regardless, it was a job well done. Not so much on the part of those proposing it, but on the part of those opposing. So, Winston Peters, Colin Craig, Bob McCoskrie: Thank You, you made the journey just that little bit easier.