For the first time in New Zealand's history, gay and lesbian couples will be able to marry from next week - giving their relationship the same footing every heterosexual partnership has been entitled to for centuries.



In the 1980s, standing alongside other gay people, as a community, we fought to break down barriers, pleading for acceptance and understanding. Throughout the centuries, some of our fellow comrades and friends were imprisoned or thrown in psychiatric hospitals, receiving shock treatment or exorcised by ministers to rid them of homosexual demons.



We just wanted to live normal lives with our partners without persecution and misconceptions.



The old saying "what went on behind closed doors" wasn't extended to the gay community. Ignorant people thought we spent all day in bed.

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The win was a celebration of the enactment of the Homosexual Law Reform Act in 1986.



Nearly 20 years later, another of the heterosexual moulds and stigma was broken with the introduction of the Civil Union Bill 2004. An equal footing for everyone - gay or straight.



The aim of the gay community was simple - acceptance and equality.



But people wanted more - marriage. Acceptance to be the same as straight people.



Was it just to be able to throw it in the faces of those who don't understand, by some who don't care about other's beliefs?



For me, marriage is a religious Christian ceremony whether in church or not.



Why marriage then? I don't know the answer because the Civil Union Bill gave us a unique form of equality.



My question is: in that process, has the gay community alienated people, people we wanted to convince that we were loving, caring, normal persons who raised children, worked hard, bought homes and contributed to the community?



I think we have shot ourselves in the foot on this one.



Yes, there was excitement on the night the bill passed in Parliament but did that excitement need to be so flamboyant? Men dressed in wedding dresses - I'm not talking about a beautiful trans-dresser who looks absolutely gorgeous, but men in wedding dresses on the streets and television crews making what I believe was a mockery of a sacred moment in two people's lives.



We need to remember there will always be some who will never understand but we don't need to drop our standards to be accepted.



Acceptance doesn't mean flaunting your lifestyle in the face of those who don't understand just so you can get your point across. Be proud but always remember: not everyone will agree.