Marriage Equality Movement in New Zealand

Issue and Action
On the 29th of August 2012 over 1000 people marched through Civic square and Lambton Quay all the way to Parliament carrying rainbow flags and signs reading “all love is equal”.This march was arranged by the Campaign for Marriage Equality, an organization that strongly supports marriage equality. This Campaign organization also sold wristbands to raise funds and awareness in favour of the bill. The march was arranged to protest the fact that same-sex marriage was not legal in New Zealand at the time and to support the Marriage Equality Campaign. There was a lot of debate and discussion about the topic and many contrasting views. Many same-sex couples in New Zealand had been facing the effects of this law disabling them from legally being recognised as married. This was really hard for a lot of people who only wanted to embrace and accept the love they had for a member of the same-sex so having the government tell them they can’t be in love with them is very hard. Ensuring this bill was passed through protest was a way for same-sex couples to be recognised and to feel like they can be who they are. This was a major social issue because many people were feeling put down and not respected for their same-sex partners. Mentally this would have had major effects on people’s wellbeing due to having to fight for equal rights. This march was a way for these people to show their support for the bill and show the government that they demanded change. In 1996 three female couples took the government to court for not approving their marriage requests however same-sex marriage in New Zealand was then refused approval by the Court of Appeal. However, this ended after long debates about what the marriage act 1955 ment and wording in the human rights laws. Marriage was then officially only between one man and one woman. Then again in 1997, the high court’s ruling was challenged however their ruling was not changed. In 2005 Prime Minister Helen Clark stated she was not against same-sex marriage however she did not push for change during her leadership. There was a long time in which same-sex couples requested the law to be changed and they were rejected. Finally, in May 14th 2012 Mp Louisa Wall introduced a private member’s bill, the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, which would allow same-sex couples to marry. However, this bill still needed to go through the parliamentary process to be accepted and written into law. This was a huge step in the right direction for marriage equality however it was just the beginning and there was no guarantee the bill would pass. The march was during the stages of passing the bill to encourage votes in their favour.

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Chosen Social Action’s Purpose
The purpose of this action was to encourage the legalization of same-sex marriage in New Zealand. The campaign for marriage equality in New Zealand began in 2012 when the same-sex marriage bill was introduced. This lead to a lot of debate, protests and petitions for and against the bill. One side was against same-sex marriage and did not want the bill to be accepted whilst the other side was in favour of marriage equality. The March through Civic square was an example of the many actions taken to support the bill. And the Christian priests who also showed up in protest of the bill were opposing the campaign and working against it. It was very important to the protesters to support the marriage equality campaign as if it was passed same-sex marriage would be legalized in New Zealand. By protesting in numbers these 1000 participants showed the government what a large part of the public wanted. They chose to march to take pride in being in same sex couples out in public and show the quantity of supporters. Getting out onto the streets and sharing their beliefs through a march was a way for supporters of same-sex marriage to come together and share their opinion. They wanted to create change in our country, specifically, change from marriage only being between a man and women to marriage being between two people. This would allow any two people who identify as anything to be recognised by the law as married (apart from family, which is specified in the bill). In 2012 when the social action took place same-sex marriage was not legal however in 2012 Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill was introduced. This bill discusses the opposing religious beliefs “We accept the right of people to hold religious and cultural beliefs, and we make no attempt to dissuade people from holding them. It is our intention that the passage of this bill should not impact negatively on people’s religious freedoms.” The bill also brings up topics like transgender issues, adoption and human rights. Overall this bill is very persuasive, in-depth and thorough. The bill was a great starting point and the march helped to reinforce those beliefs and ideas represented in the bill.

How people got involved
In May 14th 2012 when the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill was drawn this sparked debate on marriage equality. People got involved in the marriage equality campaign by taking part in protests and marches throughout 2012 and 2013. Mentioned in the bill is that they received 21,533 submissions on the bill. 18,635 of them brought up similar points, 10,487 in favour and 8,148 against the bill. The topic had been around way before this bill was introduced and a lot of conflict had always been around the topic. The start of the petitions began around 2011 and got more and more common. One example of people taking action to protest for this campaign was through the 1000 people march to parliament on the 29th of August 2012 . All people had to do was show up to Civic Square with their bright clothes, flags, or signs along with a positive attitude to support this march. Over 1000 people attended the march along Willis St and Lambton Quay all in high spirits and bright colours. Anyone could participate who supported same-sex marriage and this was a planned peaceful protest. This protest was planned by the Campaign for Marriage Equality and everyone was met by Louisa Wall, who introduced the bill, who spoke in front of parliament saying she was “Surprised, inspired, excited and confident”. The people who showed up in supported of marriage equality had the intention of encouraging parliament to legalized same-sex marriage. All the people who participated in the 1000 people march believed that marriage should be between any two people. They didn’t think that marriage should only be limited to one man and one woman because many of them were in love with someone of the sam-sex. The purpose of many of these people protesting and marching was because they wanted to get married to their partner. By attending with signs and chants and positivity these people got involved in the passing of the bill. Every person who attended a march, signed a petition, waved a rainbow flag or proposed to their same-sex partner all contributed and got involved because they were pushing for change and the government saw that.

Louisa Wall was the MP who introduced the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. In one of her speeches she talked about how these people have been treated unfairly and how she wants to change that. “They have been dealt with unjustly under the law. Steps are being taken to right the wrongs they have suffered, and it shows me that this process matters.This third reading is our road towards healing and including all citizens in our State institution of marriage, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.” She got involved in this social issue by starting it. Her action of introducing her bill started the movement of change. The reason Louisa Wall introduced her bill was because she is in love with another woman. In 2010 the two had a civil union which was very special to them however they didn’t want to get married outside of New Zealand away from their friends and family. This was one of the major reasons that Louisa decided on her bill. She understood how many other New Zealanders were feeling because she was going through the same difficulties of an inability to get married as many other couples were facing two. Louisa also had received tens of thousands of submissions about same sex marriage rights and felt strongly about the topic. Louisa and her partner had been together for over 7 years before her bill was introduced and felt a civil union wasn’t enough. Louisa got involved in the march to support her bill because she thought it was a really great idea. She introduced the bill and so obviously was in favour of it and wanted it to pass. By encouraging and supporting the march the bill was more likely to get through. Louisa attended the march and stood in front of the crowd which included supporters and opponents. She wanted to support the community but also support her bill and so by speaking at the march to the huge crowd she was able to do both.

Contrasting Perspective
Along with all the protesters for same-sex marriage, there was also a small group of Korean ministers in opposition. They stood at the side of the march peacefully holding banners which read: “one man, one woman, that’s true marriage”. They chose not to be aggressive or rude but they stood there in representation of 40,000 others from their Korean community. They were not directly trying to offend the 1000 people crowd in favour of the marriage equality bill, however, they did want the government to know there were opposing views. “If nobody expresses our opinion then the general public thinks there’s no one opposing it.” The Korean community felt that same-sex marriage should not be legal in New Zealand and decided to express this opinion through a protest. This showed the government that there was opposition against the march and that not the whole of New Zealand was in favour of the bill. Along with the Korean Ministers over 70 church leaders signed an opposing petition, the joint statement was “This issue is not about equality but about the nature of marriage. All human beings are equal in the sight of both God and society, but not all relationships are the same. Same-sex relationships are intrinsically different, so can never be regarded as true marriage.” These priests believed same-sex marriage was wrong in the eyes of god and did not respect their religion. If they had it their way only one man and woman could marry because that is the true meaning of marriage in their eyes. Both of these opposing perspectives from these groups goals where to let the government know that there were members of New Zealand who opposed the bill. It’s not that they directly hate same-sex couples but because they just believe that marriage is a sacred and special thing. For the Koreans, they believe marriage is only between one man and one woman because that is how it has been forever and that special ritual shouldn’t be changed. However, the Christian church leaders believe same-sex marriage shouldn’t be legal because not all relationships are equal in the eyes of God. They believe altering this tradition will greatly affect family structures in a bad way. One example of this viewpoint is Reverend Richard Waugh, from East City Wesleyan church. He verbally expressed that the opposing group wanted to clarify exactly what mainstream Christian churches felt in terms of same-sex marriage and the bill. This was done through their presence,voice and statement. These two perspectives were both against the marriage equality bill however for different reasons. Both groups stood outside parliament along side the march with signatures and family that represented who they were speaking for. Even though not all the priests or Korean communities could attend they were represented by those few people.

On the other side of the argument is the people who are in favour of marriage equality. These people arranged a rally to show the government that they wanted the bill to be passed. There were likely a lot of people who attended the rally that were in same-sex relationships. Some of them might not even want to get married but having that equality and freedom is what the march wanted. These people didn’t want to have any special privileges they just wanted to be equal and be able to be with the person they love. They expressed this through their march on the 29th of August 2012 which was held outside parliament. Through their signs, numbers, chants and passion they were able to express their opinion on the bill. By attending the march people were able to feel a part of change in favour of their beliefs. The marchers chanted “all love is equal” which expressed their perspectives which were in contrast with the protesters against the bill. These protesters wanted same-sex marriage to be legal in New Zealand and all felt very strongly towards the issue.

Consequences
(long and short term)
On the 14th of May 2012, MP Louisa Wall of the Labour Party introduced a private member’s bill and was passed with 77 votes. After this March in August 2012 the same-sex marriage bill was passed its first and second readings very soon after and became official on 19 August 2013. “marriage means the union of 2 people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity”, quoted off the official Marriage Amendment Act 2013. The march was a way of letting the government know what so many people wanted and helped them make the decisions to pass the bill. If there had been no peaceful protests then the government wouldn’t have realized the impact its decisions would have on many couples. The short term effects of this march were encouraging the bill to be passed which lead to it ultimately being written into the law. It wasn’t all down to the march but it definitely helped the bills chances. Long term same-sex couples have been getting married here in New Zealand for 5 years now. Many same-sex couples are ecstatic and people come all over the world to get married in New Zealand. Statistics show half of all same-sex marriages and civil unions in New Zealand in 2016 were couples living overseas. This is likely because New Zealand has started the change and many other same-sex couples around the world want the same to happen in their country. However there have been some very unhappy clergy’s since the bills passing who have been refusing to marry same-sex couples. This is a direct effect of the bill passing and has sparked debate over whether or not these people should be forced to perform marriage for these couples anyway even if it’s against their religious beliefs. Cake makers, wedding planners and churches are also denying same-sex couples service due to their beliefs. These people protested same-sex marriage through their actions. This is a consequence of Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013. This obviously is yet another inequality that these same-sex couples had to go through however many were still very happy just with the act.

Since the same-sex marriage act was introduced same sex couples have been able to adopt children together. Before then only one parent could be the legal parent not both. This was a direct consequence of the act and has mad a lot of same-sex couples very happy. There has been a lot of debate about weather parents of the same gender can raise a child just as good as opposite gender children however a large portion of people believe that they can, myself included.

I thought a lot about what could have happened if this bill wasn’t passed and i’m sure many other people have too. I have notice in my life that a huge amount of people support same-sex marriage, the world now is becoming a lot more accepting and giving same sex couples more respect and equality that they deserved. Attitudes are shifting however there are still some people stuck in the past. I think from my experiences and research that if the bill hadn’t been passed in 2012 a new bill would have been introduced recently and would have been passed just due to the increasing of acceptance in our society. I think that no matter if the bill was passed or not, it definitely would now because I have researched statistics of supporters and talked to lots of people they know and same-sex marriage is not as controversial as it used to be. A lot more people feel more comfortable to come out as non-heterosexual nowadays which was nonexistent when my parents were at school. The society is changing for the better and I think same-sex marriage is forever going to stay legal in New Zealand.

Significance for society
(Did it meet its intended purpose
Relate to social justice and human rights)

LGBT is a lot more supported in New Zealand now however there is still some inequalities for them like …..
Overall this social action met its intended purpose of supporting the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. After the march and protests the bill was passed and the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013 was introduced into law. This allowed same-sex couples to legally marry which was the intended purpose of the march. Even though the social action wasn’t a direct change it helped push forward the bill which ultimately led to this positive change in New Zealand. Even though some people still feel it wasn’t positive change, like the Korean community or christian churches there is an overpowering amount of people who feel much more equal from this new act. Marriage equality is now here in New Zealand and the social action march helped that happen.

I believe that this social action supported human rights because in article 2 of the human rights act i quote “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” Same-sex marriage being illegal is discrimination of someone’s sexual orientation and how they define themselves. This article states that everyone should be entitled to rights and freedoms and there for that should also mean the right and freedom to marry. When this act was passed this discrimination was set right and that is why it was so important to society to fix the mistakes made along time ago. Because of our change we have also set an example for many other countries like Australia _other examples______

Other countries have followed in our footsteps like australia who legalized same sex marriage ____time___. ….

Talk about louisa and who she is what she thinks why
Viewpoints on action itself so what they did and why

Then in 2013 The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013 was passed legalizing same-sex marriage. This act includes “The purpose of this Act is to amend the principal Act to clarify that a marriage is between 2 people regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity”.

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