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NZ set to be a step closer to equality for same sex couples


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On Thursday, New Zealand will be a step closer to marriage and adoption equality for same sex couples.

From 12pm at Civic Square, LegaliseLove will be leading a march to Parliament, alongside prominent politicians from all ends of the political spectrum, to raise support for the legal ability of Queer New Zealanders to marry each other, and adopt children as a couple.

"The support LegaliseLove has received has been overwhelming, from a broad cross-section of society," said LegaliseLove President Joseph Habgood. "Particularly heart-warming has been the help and cooperation of Rev. Dr. Margaret Mayman, the Minister of St. Andrews on the Terrace, putting to rest the out-dated notion that Christianity is an excuse for homophobia. It is clear that homophobia is quickly running out of hiding places. "

Speaking at the rally will be Fionnaigh McKenzie, a prominent member of St. Andrews on the Terrace. "I look forward to celebrating another milestone in our country's history when we achieve equality for non-heterosexual New Zealanders," she said. "As a Christian, I believe we must challenge all forms of injustice, including discriminatory laws. We can create a more inclusive society where all families are supported and given equal opportunities."

Also speaking will be Brooklynne Kennedy, an American-born queer rights icon in New Zealand and leader of TRANZform in Wellington, Nicole Brasch, a former student of Marlborough Girls' College and passionate queer rights advocate, and Joseph Habgood, as the campaign's president.

This year has been a remarkable year for queer rights all around the world, with New York making the historic decision to fully support same-sex marriages, as well as the United States repealing the policy commonly known as 'Don't Ask Don't Tell', whereby homosexual people serving in the military were forbidden to disclose their sexualities. Tasmania's Parliament has also recently pledged to support gay marriage in Australia.

"But for all the good that's happened in the world this year," said Habgood, there are countries where homosexuality is still a criminal offence. New Zealand needs to join in in sending a loud and clear message that homophobia is unacceptable, and the best way to do this is by ensuring acceptance and equality at home."

"Although we want to be clear that we have members and supporters from all across the political spectrum, the Labour Party's recent move to fully support gay marriage and adoption, becoming the second major political party behind the Greens to do so, is even more proof that legal equality for queer New Zealanders is not a matter of if, but when."

LegaliseLove campaigning as a bi-partisan group has received support from a number of diverse political parties in New Zealand. From the beginning of the campaign Habgood and other members have met with representatives from the Labour, National, Greens, and ACT parties, including Rajnesh Singh, the chair of VicNats, who all agreed that the aim of this campaign was to further human rights, not just gay rights. At the Rainbow Wellington Candidates forum Grant Robertson and Charles Chauvel from Labour; Paul Foster-Bell from National; Kevin Hague, Jan Logie, and James Shaw from the Green Party and Steven Whittington from ACT all pledged their support for the campaign. The widespread support for marriage equality and adoption rights for same-sex couples was also evident with four of the major candidates running in the Wellington Central election campaign getting behind LegaliseLove. Members of the LegaliseLove campaign would like to thank all those politicians who have supported the campaign thus far, and look forward to working with them in the future.

The campaign has also received support from prominent figures within Wellington's wider Queer community, particular Scotty and Mal Kennedy-Vaughan from S&M's Cocktail bar on Cuba Street. The well known duo have been part of New Zealand's LGBTQ night life scene for over twenty years with either working in or owning bars and clubs that catered for the Queer market. Having been together since 1992, Scotty and Mal decided to formalise their relationship by getting married with the help of the ZM radio station. In 2001 Scotty and Mal with over 500,000 votes won the stations' 'My Bent Friend's Wedding' contest which sent them to Hawaii to exchange their vows. Ten years on the two would like to see the same rights extended to New Zealand citizens and recognise the importance of raising awareness for these issues. As Mal says, 'that's where LegaliseLove comes in.' Campaigns like LegaliseLove, he continues on to say, are about 'changing opinions' and that's what the group aims to achieve. Scotty and Mal continue to be strong advocates for Queer rights in the Wellington region.


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