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NZ becomes first country in Asia-Pacific region to approve gay marriage
April 17, 2013 7:47 AM   Subscribe

New Zealand legalises same-sex marriage, becoming the first country in the Asia-Pacific region and the 13th country to do so. The bill was passed with a wide majority, with 77 votes in favour and 44 against. "In our society, the meaning of marriage is universal - it's a declaration of love and commitment to a special person," said Labour MP Louisa Wall. The declaration of the vote was followed by a waiata.
posted by arcticseal (72 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is good news, but I cringe a little bit at the post title.
posted by jepler at 7:50 AM on April 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, not a fan of the title, especially considering that in the books (here is where I go all pedantic) Samwise was smitten with and eventually married a hobbit woman and had a passel of kids with her.

I'm so pleased to watch the unfolding of years of second-class citizenship. I sincerely hope that my country gets its ass in gear with the rest of the world, and soon.
posted by cooker girl at 7:57 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Best. Post. Title. Ever.
posted by redbeard at 7:57 AM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, can a mod change the title of the post to something less jokey? This is an important day for many people and it deserves better than to be undermined by a lazy/queerbaity (and incorrect - Samwise was straight, or at least bi, as his long-lasting marriage to Rosie Cotton attests) jibe.

Getting back to the good news - here's the video of the moment the viewing gallery burst into song.
posted by fight or flight at 7:58 AM on April 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


That Pokarekare Ana is quite something.
posted by hawthorne at 8:05 AM on April 17, 2013


It's the thin end of the wedge, I tells ya.

Next they'll be allowing kiwis to marry their favourite sheep.

/Santorum
posted by MuffinMan at 8:08 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


New Zealanders are quite something, too.
"Unlock the doors! Unlock the doors!"

Way to go New Zealand. Congratulations.
Needs tag: 'NoFools'
posted by de at 8:08 AM on April 17, 2013


Things can only be universal within something if the thing they are universal within is a universe. Does New Zealand exist in an alternate continuity from the rest of the world? Or perhaps the rest of the English-speaking world?
posted by LogicalDash at 8:10 AM on April 17, 2013


PS Adoption rights come with each certificate.
posted by de at 8:10 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Great news. Good for New Zealand!
posted by jiawen at 8:10 AM on April 17, 2013


I came in here just to favourite this thread because of the post title. But indeed, yay kiwis.
posted by Diablevert at 8:11 AM on April 17, 2013


Rosie Cotton-Gamgee would have something to say about this title, but good on you New Zealand.
posted by Foosnark at 8:13 AM on April 17, 2013


New Zealand MP Delivers Hilarious, Uplifting Speech to Parliament About Gay Marriage.
posted by ericb at 8:14 AM on April 17, 2013 [16 favorites]


[Title tweaked by poster request.]
posted by cortex at 8:21 AM on April 17, 2013


Came because I was excited to hear about another country supporting equality, stayed to watch people earnestly discuss the sexuality of a leprechaun.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:21 AM on April 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Apologies if it offended anyone. Serves me right for messing with LOTR canon.
posted by arcticseal at 8:25 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


^ The gay onslaught Maurice Williamson has trouble pinning will be the Australians arriving with their mega-million marriage dollars providing NZ with a two speed economy.
posted by de at 8:25 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fuck yeah, New Zealand.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:34 AM on April 17, 2013


was hoping for happy pictures and stories, instead found grousing over lord of the rings partnering. never change, metafilter.
posted by nadawi at 8:36 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Universal gay marriage rights can't come soon enough, but I do enjoy it so much when another country or U.S. state announces they're on the side of the fabulous.
posted by orange swan at 8:36 AM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Aw. I missed what I'm assuming was a "Do you, Samwise, take Mr. Frodo?" joke.

Anyway, this is good news. I'm always happy to hear about another country legalizing gay marriage. I must admit, I'm a bit surprised that New Zealand came before Australia. My impression (from afar) has been that NZ is generally the more conservative of the two countries, as far as social values are concerned.
posted by asnider at 8:38 AM on April 17, 2013


New Zealand does egalitarian by accident. Australia has Julia Thatcher-Gillard.
posted by de at 8:43 AM on April 17, 2013


This is probably covered somewhere in the links, but it's worth noting that NZ has had gay (and straight) civil unions since 2005. It's an interesting reflection on how rapidly opinion has been changing on the gay marriage issue that what seemed like a major step forward less than a decade ago now seems like a strange relic of less enlightened times.

I think that the Civil Union act probably hastened today's move, though--when people saw lots of gay couples getting married in every legal sense of the term and the heavens failed to open and rain fire on the land or turn anyone into a pillar of salt, it became difficult to find any rationale for having two separate sets of marriage laws--especially when, in effect, you were maintaining the old one solely for loony homophobes.
posted by yoink at 8:44 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a New Zealander living in the USA it was great to wake up this morning to my facebook feed full of happiness. A nice antidote to the past couple of days post-Boston.
posted by gaspode at 8:50 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Australia has Julia Thatcher-Gillard.

And the only other choice is Cardinal Abbott.
posted by Talez at 8:53 AM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh man, that video of everyone in the viewing gallery singing just dissolved me into tears. Good work, New Zealand!
posted by peacheater at 8:53 AM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Let's Have A Kiwi! :)
posted by eenagy at 9:05 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Welcome to the club, New Zealand. Drinks are over there, and there are the chairs where we sit and laugh at the rest of the world's backwardness from.
posted by Canageek at 9:06 AM on April 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Australia has Julia Thatcher-Gillard.

That's Julia Blair-Gillard. Thatcher stood for something.
posted by acb at 9:11 AM on April 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Universal gay marriage rights can't come soon enough

I think every country that adopts marriage equality hastens its near-universal acceptance. Every married gay couple who moves from a country or state that recognizes their marriage to a country or state that doesn't creates bureaucratic headaches and an instant "how can this possibly be fair?" news story. I think the momentum for a massive rationalization of marriage laws and marriage treaties will become unstoppable. Obviously there'll still be holdouts in places like Iran etc., but I don't think it will be all that long before gays and straights can marry in all western nations and have their marriages legally recognized when they move from one nation to another.
posted by yoink at 9:17 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is probably covered somewhere in the links, but it's worth noting that NZ has had gay (and straight) civil unions since 2005. It's an interesting reflection on how rapidly opinion has been changing on the gay marriage issue that what seemed like a major step forward less than a decade ago now seems like a strange relic of less enlightened times.

More interesting, I think, is how fast some countries are getting from decriminalisation to marriage. In New Zealand, it will be 27 years (perhaps to the day--apparently New Zealand is as much a sucker for symbolic dates as I am). But even Ireland is edging towards marriage (they're going to have a referendum, but I'm not sure what its prospects are) and decriminalisation there was 1993. (Which I realise was still 20 years ago, but we're still talking huge chunks of the population who can remember homosexuality being illegal.)
posted by hoyland at 9:19 AM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Someone on my facebook feed this morning had posted a link to a story about this with the text, "New Zealand passed that gay marriage law" and I'm glad that the world has changed enough in the past ~10 years that I read it and understood New Zealand had legalized gay marriage rather than New Zealand had passed a law preemptively preventing people from even pretending that gay people might some day have some aspect of their relationships recognized legally.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 9:33 AM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I wonder whether this will prompt Australia to move towards legalising gay marriage and becoming more liberal, or whether it'll have the opposite effect. It has been argued that two places near each other, where one has a specific focus or set of values, will end up becoming polarised, with the other turning in the opposite direction, as people migrate depending on whether they agree or disagree with that set of values. (The example given by Paul Graham is that renaissance Milan, a city of the same size as Florence, didn't have any notable artists; Graham's conclusion was that by becoming synonymous with the values of art, Florence attracted the artistically-inclined from its nearby area, including Milan, and those who were inclined towards things other than art ended up moving out of Florence towards other cities, such as Milan.) So, if this follows, as New Zealand becomes a haven for all things liberal and progressive, liberal-minded Australians will move there (“it's like Scandinavia only with better weather and coffee, and you don't need a visa or to learn a different language”), leaving only the bogans, plus any reactionary Kiwis frustrated by their country's direction. And so Australia will become an increasingly narrow-minded place completely relaxed and comfortable about casual bigotry, in which it's not recommended to be too different.

It'll do a lot of damage to the “creative economy” in Australia, but then again, if the country's sole business is digging stuff up and selling it to China, that doesn't really need much of a Richard Florida-style creative class. A plus will be that the Coalition's budget-priced broadband plan will now be plenty enough. On the other hand, the sky's the limit for New Zealand.
posted by acb at 9:50 AM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


if you haven't watched the singing linked up thread, you really should. also, if "UNLOCK THE DOORS" doesn't become the new equal rights rallying cry then why do we even have an internet?
posted by nadawi at 10:03 AM on April 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


There's a kiwi in my eye! (Congrats, NZ.)
posted by scody at 10:25 AM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


UNLOCK THE DOORS!
posted by jph at 11:30 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


also, if "UNLOCK THE DOORS" doesn't become the new equal rights rallying cry then why do we even have an internet?

Such a slogan could further alienate the fear-driven, gated-community-dwelling, SUV-driving, Hobbesian conservatives away from gay marriage as a cause. After all, if you believe the worst about human nature unless otherwise verified, doors and locks are there for a reason.
posted by acb at 11:35 AM on April 17, 2013


That singing video is wonderful. I have goosebumps and am near-sniffly at work, now, damn you kiwis.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:49 AM on April 17, 2013


It struck me just now that watching marriage rights rolling out across the globe like this must be similiar to watching sufferage roll out.
posted by Mitheral at 12:24 PM on April 17, 2013


You guys understand that "Unlock the doors" is just part of parliamentary procedure? A few minutes after a vote is called, the doors are locked so no absent MPs can sneak in, and after the vote, they are unlocked. It is beautifully apropos in this case, I must admit.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:28 PM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


On the civil unions thing. When we brought them in, the anti-gay lobby opposed them on the grounds they would lead to gay marriage (although here we favour the term "marriage equality"). And you could see why, because civil unions in NZ are identical in legal effect to marriage except that they are not actually called marriages. In this present debate, the anti-gay lobby suddenly fell in love with civil unions, claiming that if same sex couples wanted state recognition they could have a civil union, so no need to allow them to be married. O the irony.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:41 PM on April 17, 2013


My impression (from afar) has been that NZ is generally the more conservative of the two countries, as far as social values are concerned.

Generally not, I would have said. Women's suffrage came first in NZ, the welfare state, prostitution is fully legal in NZ (legal in some states in Aus). Some Australian states beat NZ to decriminalisation of homosexuality, but some lagged behind. Drug reform seems to be ahead in NZ. NZ has probably done a better job of making amends for the faults of colonialism.

Having said all that, I'm from one of the most liberal parts of NZ, so my perception of my fellow Kiwis is possibly more positive than the reality. There's obviously going to be huge variation in both countries.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:44 PM on April 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


New Zealand MP Delivers Hilarious, Uplifting Speech to Parliament About Gay Marriage.

By the way, that guy's from our right-wing party.

Even more heartening was to see a change of opinion from people like John Banks, who 27 years ago voted for homosexuality to remain a crime, and last night repented of his previous action and voted in favour of equality: "Would the God that I believe in think any less of me for voting for this bill? No."
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:56 PM on April 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


That song. Which almost all of us learned in primary school. We watched Parliament TV last night and sang along.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:58 PM on April 17, 2013


Actually, if you want speeches, I recommend Chris Auchinvole's speech on the second reading.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:00 PM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Do you have many gay MPs?
posted by de at 1:02 PM on April 17, 2013


Quite a few out ones, and some more around whom rumour swirls. The deputy leader of the Labour Party Grant Robertson and Louissa Walls herself come to mind, as does the ruling National Party's Attorney General Chris Finlayson (who voted against bill because he is a devout Catholic, don't even ask). See also Georgina Beyer, who is no longer in Parliament, but who is probably the best example of how openly LGBT people have been able to win office here.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:08 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


You guys understand that "Unlock the doors" is just part of parliamentary procedure

oh yeah, just, like you say, a little extra beautiful today.
posted by nadawi at 1:21 PM on April 17, 2013


I note that all the NZ First MPs voted against. I'm sure my fellow kiwis will be as unsurprised by this as I am.
posted by Broseph at 1:58 PM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Link-rich overview from the NZ Listener.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:32 PM on April 17, 2013


Go New Zealand!
posted by Coaticass at 2:51 PM on April 17, 2013


That singing video is wonderful. I have goosebumps and am near-sniffly at work, now, damn you kiwis.


I've been to a few professional conferences in NZ and have always been struck by the way Maori song was incorporated into the program and sometimes arose as a spontaneous response from audience, by both Maori and pakeha. The NZ delegates who've come to our conferences will often respond in song as well. It always gives me goosebumps; there is something so glorious about it, proud and welcoming.

Women's suffrage came first in NZ, the welfare state

There's the refusal to let nuclear powered ships into their ports too. That was gutsy.

I think the respective sizes of the populations have something to do with the difference in national culture, too. Massive generalisations ahead:

Australia is always trying to be seen as a major player on the world stage so we're always self-conscious about what the rest of the world thinks about us; as Shaun Micallef said last night, we're not sure we're as good as the rest of the world unless other countries tell us we are. Australian politicians are always going to worry about how any internal policy is going to be viewed by our allies, and since our allies at the moment are mostly very conservative, that's how they want to appear.

New Zealand, OTOH, has a tiny population and is geographically small and more isolated; they're used to being ignored by the rest of the world. Consequently they are unafraid to just do what they believe in and what's best for them, and ignore what the rest of the world thinks about it. I think they end up looking the stronger and prouder nation.
posted by andraste at 3:55 PM on April 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Ka mate ahau i te aroha e, Maurice.

If you haven't watched the speech ericb linked to, please do. Like infinite jest said - this is our "old and boring" Right wing.

It is a happy day here, a day to be proud of our Parlliament, and our society, and the way we do things.
posted by Catch at 4:13 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is going to be a blow to Australian tourism. I already know one gay couple who's going to NZ to get married. If we don't legalize gay marriage Oxford Street could become a wasteland and all those Mardi Gras dollars Sydney depends on will evaporate.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:26 PM on April 17, 2013


So many gems, as I work my way through last night's speeches.
Another of our 'right wing' MPs who voted for the bill, Paul Hutchinson, talks with compassion about how his experience as an Obstetrician gave him understanding of the complexity of the gender spectrum.
posted by Catch at 5:29 PM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


In the song video, I liked the conincidence that one side of the house had no visible women, but a large visible set of grumpy men sitting there like a bunch of bigoted chumps who probably still haven't even realised how backwards they are.
posted by jacalata at 5:44 PM on April 17, 2013


I'm an Australian.

Today I wish I was a New Zealander.

How wonderful for everyone there, and how obvious does that make Australia's backwardness and stupid fear on such things.
posted by chris88 at 5:58 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


New Zealanders use any old excuse for a waiata. Or a haka. Or a powhiri. When I was at school, we sang:
Po karekare ana
She threw a banana
She threw it at the teacher
and made her cry


Helen Clarke was being cautious when she introduced Civil Unions, but now, with a fair number of openly gay members of parliament, they've come too see them as "mostly harmless" and there have been a number of celebrity gay unions recently. This was really inevitable, and to see bipartisan approval of such a change in our social structure is heartwarming.
posted by arzakh at 7:13 PM on April 17, 2013


BIG GAY RAINBOW.
posted by Catch at 7:22 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Po karekare ana
She threw a banana
She threw it at the teacher
and made her cry


I remember it as:

Po karekare ana
I had a fat banana
I threw it at the teacher
She said come here
I said, "No fear
"You might hurt me"


Sorry for the derail, but that is such a memory from my childhood in the 1950's

I was working in Parliament thirty-odd years ago for a Labour Party MP when the Homosexual Law Reform Bill was being debated. One task I had was to collate all of the letters received from his electorate on the issue to see what the split was. From memory it was about 50/50, but the thing I remember most was the material submitted from the strident anti-Reform lobby. It was the most *explicit* pornography I had ever seen. They seemed obsessed with it. Anyway, the Bill was passed and became law. Since then, New Zealand has become a better place, far more tolerant, diverse and interesting than the one I grew up in. It will be the same this time. I'm glad.
posted by vac2003 at 8:01 PM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Congratulations, New Zealand! You shame us, as well you should.
posted by Georgina at 2:49 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


In case anyone's interested, this is the song they're singing, in Maori:

Pōkarekare ana, ngā wai o Waiapu
Whiti atu koe hine, marino ana e
E hine e, hoki mai ra, ka mate ahau i te aroha e.
Tuhituhi taku reta, tuku atu taku rīni
Kia kite tō iwi, raruraru ana e.
E hine e, hoki mai ra, ka mate ahau i te aroha e.
Whatiwhati taku pene, kua pau aku pepa
Ko taku aroha, mau tonu ana e.
E hine e, hoki mai ra, ka mate ahau i te aroha e.
E kore te aroha, e maroke i te rā
Mākūkū tonu i aku roimata e.
E hine e, hoki mai ra, ka mate ahau i te aroha e.

And here's a translation into English:

The waves are breaking, against the shores of Waiapu,
My heart is aching, for your return my love.
Oh my beloved, come back to me, my heart is breaking for of love for you.
I have written you a letter, and enclosed with it my ring,
If your people should see it, then the trouble will begin.
Oh girl, come back to me, my heart is breaking for of love for you.
My poor pen is broken, my paper is spent,
But my love for you endures, and remains forever more.
Oh my beloved, come back to me, my heart is breaking for of love for you.
The sun's hot sheen, won't scorch my love,
Being kept evergreen, by the falling of my tears.
Oh girl, Come back to me, I could die of love for you.

It's probably the most famous Maori song in New Zealand, composed some time in the early C20th. A lot of pakeha know the words to it without necessarily knowing more than the general meaning (or more than "it's a love song").
posted by yoink at 10:00 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Catch: "Another of our 'right wing' MPs who voted for the bill, Paul Hutchinson, talks with compassion about how his experience as an Obstetrician gave him understanding of the complexity of the gender spectrum."

I just wish US conservatives were that progressive.
posted by jiawen at 11:03 AM on April 18, 2013


I just wish US conservatives were that progressive.

I wish the Australian centre-left were that progressive.
posted by acb at 11:12 AM on April 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Just a note on Pokarekare Ana - I see a lot of people are quoting the version that speaks of Waiapu, in general nowadays we sing 'Rotorua' and this is what was sung in Parliament.

Te Ururoa Flavell 's speech for some interesting context.
posted by Catch at 11:48 AM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't remember the last time legislative speeches brought me this close to tears. Thank you, New Zealand.
posted by jiawen at 1:32 PM on April 18, 2013


in general nowadays we sing 'Rotorua' and this is what was sung in Parliament.

Which is interesting; my understanding was that the interpolation of "Rotorua" was essentially a Rotorua tourism thing--hijacking Pokarekare Ana to the Rotorua-based Hinemoa legend. But you're right, it is the version you hear most often; at least when pakeha sing it.
posted by yoink at 2:38 PM on April 18, 2013


I wonder if it was Kiri who mainstreamed the 'Rotorua' version?
According to this, the original version was 'nga wai o hokianga'. But I think it doesn't do to be too precious about folk songs, we can enjoy the song in many forms.

I was thinking yesterday how much fun it would have been if someone had altered the wikipedia entry in time, and started the Interweb solemnly copying and pasting the translation "One people on the water ..."
posted by Catch at 3:00 PM on April 18, 2013


According to this, the original version was 'nga wai o hokianga'.

Actually, according to that, we don't know, and they conjecture Hokianga. The earliest known version has "Waiapu."
posted by yoink at 6:07 PM on April 18, 2013


Whatever it is it's history and heaven knows we all like to rewrite that. As far as I'm concerned — and I've only just read it — it is and always was: "One people on the water ...", very catchy.

Much envy, New Zealand, you're a lovely people xx
posted by de at 10:31 PM on April 18, 2013


First you legalize civil unions, then, nek minnit...

Well done NZ and here's hoping the Greens here in Oz can get their bill over the line so Australia will recognize NZ gay marriages.
posted by joz at 2:51 AM on April 19, 2013


France legalizes same-sex marriage after wrenching debate
posted by homunculus at 12:32 PM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


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