Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre McIvor: A toast to gay weddings law

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Robyn Paterson, centre left, and Paula Boock, right, watch the final reading on Parliament TV at the Caluzzi Bar and Cabaret. Photo / Getty Images
Robyn Paterson, centre left, and Paula Boock, right, watch the final reading on Parliament TV at the Caluzzi Bar and Cabaret. Photo / Getty Images

Marriage between gay couples became legal in a historic vote of 77-44 on Wednesday night in Parliament.

Vows won't be able to be exchanged immediately; the law change will take effect four months from now. But this week around New Zealand, champagne corks - and indeed questions - were being popped as this country became the 13th in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region to allow gay couples to marry.

Predictably, there were those who promised doom and the wrath of a vengeful God on New Zealand politicians, homosexual people, their supporters, and all of the above, for supporting the law change for marriage to no longer be the sole domain of heterosexuals.

Talkback was overrun with callers and the same old arguments and justifications were trotted out by both sides of the debate.

There does seem to be a great deal of lip-smacking prurience by some of those on the anti side who spend a lot of time dwelling on what sodomites get up to under the duvet.

The fact that some straight people could be included in the ranks of the sodomites and that not all gay people belong to that club bothers them not a whit. On and on they go, whipping themselves into such a frenzy that, after mere minutes, they're forced to take themselves off for cold showers.

There were some antis I had more sympathy for. They were the ones who felt, in a world that seemed to be changing by the day, it was important to hold on to some institutions. Like marriage, they said.

But what about the abolition of slavery and the right of women to vote? Looking back, there were many who felt that the abolition of slavery would lead to economic and societal ruin. And many more believed that granting women suffrage would most certainly lead the world down the road to perdition.

Not so long ago, marriage between men and women of different religions and races was actively discouraged and women who gave birth out of wedlock were made to suffer for the rest of their lives.

Change is unsettling and it can be frightening but it's not always bad.

I have never had a problem with couples in love wanting to marry, be they straight or gay. In this mad world, finding someone to love and being loved in return seems a rare miracle.

There is much to be afraid of in this world. But I'm not scared of people who love each other and want to declare their love, publicly and legally, in matrimony. Not in some watered-down version of matrimony, but in a real, honest-to-goodness, dab-at-your-eyes-with-a-hanky wedding.

When the vote was cast on Wednesday night in favour of amending the marriage laws to allow gay couples to marry, I felt the same way as I did when I fell in love with my husband.

Not skyrockets and bells-and-whistles excitement. Just the quiet certainty that this was the right thing to be doing.


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- Herald on Sunday

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