Last night the New Zealand Government passed a bill which extends the ability to marry to couples of the same sex. The passage of the bill by 77 votes to 44 votes is an acknowledgement that everyone should have the same fundamental rights under the law – regardless of their sex, gender, race or who they fall in love with. New Zealand is the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to recognise same sex marriages and I am proud of my little nation!!
After the Speaker of the House read out the final tally of votes, the gallery broke out into singing the Maori song Pokarekare Ana which includes the translated lyrics, “I have written you a letter, and enclosed with it my ring. If your people should see it, then the trouble will begin… My poor pen is broken, my paper is spent, But my love for you endures, and remains forever more.” Tears were flowing across the country!
I personally am super excited that, come August, I can help officiate the marriages and civil unions of all couples that I meet. For those of you who are wanting to “update” your civil union to marriage (or vice versa), the process is basically the same as filing for a marriage the first time around:
1) Couple to complete the notice for changing the relationship in front of the Registrar and pay the fee ($122.60 with a celebrant and $173.70 at a Registry Office) – note that these forms are likely to change before the implementation date in August;
2) New paperwork (including a marriage license) for the couple and the celebrant to sign will be issued within 3 days; and
3) Then you can have a ceremony (either at the registry office or in front of another marriage celebrant such as myself) in whatever grandness you choose – from a 30 second signing in front of two witnesses to a large shindig – and we sign new paperwork in the same way as the general marriage or civil union process.
Congrats NZ. I am a proud kiwi!