Marriage law change allows dream to be fulfilled

By Genevieve Helliwell -
Tauranga's Te Mete Smith and his partner Joseph Hayes. Photo / Supplied
Tauranga's Te Mete Smith and his partner Joseph Hayes. Photo / Supplied

A Tauranga man is celebrating the historic passage of same-sex marriage legislation which means he can now fulfil a life-long dream.

Same-sex marriage is legal after a landmark law change was passed in Parliament last night.

For Te Mete Smith, the change means he will not have to travel overseas to marry his long-term partner Joseph Hayes.

"Marriage is something that I thought about but it was never an option.

"And a civil union will not cut it. But now there's another option that makes us equal and it's something to celebrate."

Mr Smith said he knew he was gay at a young age but "came out" to his parents seven years ago when he was 21.

"I kept it from my family because they weren't accepting of it.

"They are now ... but originally when I came out my parents and I didn't speak for three years.

"They are a Christian family and had very idealistic hopes and dreams of what they wanted for me and I guess that didn't happen, in their eyes."

As a child Mr Smith was teased, bullied and beaten up because he was different.

He felt like a "second class citizen" and was treated like one.

After years being shunned by society, Mr Smith said times were beginning to change and gay couples were slowly being accepted in society.

"What I hope for, regardless of a person's sexuality, gender or identity, is for all people to have the same rights as everyone else."

Reverend John Hebenton from St George's Anglican Church in Gate Pa said he hoped and expected the Bill to pass.

"I think it will be a good thing," he said.

"People might get upset that we shouldn't redefine marriage but we redefine it all the time. Marriage, in its original context, was about property where the woman was the property of the father then her new husband's. It was about ownership and we don't accept that anymore ... and this is just a new redefinition of marriage."

Mr Hebenton said his opinion was not shared by everyone in the church but there were "quite a few" who did and together they put in a submission in support of the law change.

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