Amelia Wade is a court reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Gay couples' minds focused on big day

Robyn Paterson (left) and Paula Boock became engaged on the night the bill passed. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Robyn Paterson (left) and Paula Boock became engaged on the night the bill passed. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Robyn Paterson and Paula Boock have been engaged for less than three days, but their families are already planning the wedding.

The two women got engaged on Wednesday night at Auckland's Caluzzi bar and cabaret, moments after the Marriage Amendment Bill passed. Ms Paterson's proposal was captured by the Herald as one of the moments of elation around the country.

"The reaction's just been amazing, we've had so many people congratulating us," she said.

And while they haven't set a date or made any plans themselves, their families are getting excited and exchanging ideas for the ceremony.

"I think we might have to take the reins back soon."

Their anniversary is in October, so loose plans are to marry then.

For Cameron Law and Jeremy Hanson, getting married is about losing the social stigma of having a civil union.

Three years ago, they had a big, expensive ceremony in front of their friends, exchanged rings, professed their love and committed to being together for the rest of their lives.

But despite it being a marriage in everything but name and legal status, Mr Law says a civil union doesn't quite feel the same.

"It's quite important for us to be able to present ourselves to the world as a married couple. And more broadly than that, passing the bill says that gay and lesbian New Zealanders are equal and that their relationships are equal.

"But the most important thing for me is that ... this is kind of saying that legally and in the eye of most of society, your relationships are fine."

The passing of the law means they can now get married - they're planning a small ceremony in August - and have their commitment recognised in 12 other countries.

Mr Law, 38, and Mr Hanson, 41, watched the third reading of the bill and celebrated with a few glasses of champagne when it was passed.

They met in 2004 during a rally opposing Bishop Brian Tamaki's "enough is enough" protest when the Civil Union Bill was before Parliament.

"We like to say Brian Tamaki brought us together," Mr Law said.

Legalising same-sex marriage also means a lot to those who aren't planning to marry any time soon.

Ricardo Simich, who is single, said it was great to have the opportunity to marry when he finds the right person. Simich, the Herald on Sunday's Spy pages editor, was pleased how civilised the debate had been and that the tide of public opinion had changed.

"When Louisa Wall's bill was pulled out of the ballot last year, I thought, 'Oh no, here we go again,' because when being gay was decriminalised and when civil unions were brought through, the arguments were so vicious."

- NZ Herald

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