The New Zealand Parliament has now legalised same-sex marriage thus marking another milestone in the battle for marriage equality and are the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to do so. Though same-sex civil unions have been legal in New Zealand, the desire for full same-sex marriage was still an important issue being fought for. With 77 votes in favour and only 44 votes against gay marriage the battle was won.
On social networking sites phrases, posts and hash-tags using the words "It's Frodo and Sam, not Frodo and Pam" have been spotted in a whimsical response to the news, a play on the anti-gay slogan "It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" concerning the argument that marriage is inherently concerned with procreation. Frodo and Sam are two characters from the Lord of the Rings books and film franchise so highly associated with New Zealand having been heavily filmed on location around the country.
What is most beautiful about this momentous occasion is what occurred the moment it was announced that the majority vote was for gay marriage. Someone in the gallery boldly started singing traditional Māori love song 'Pokarekare Ana' and those on the floor and the gallery stood and sang in unison. A waiata (song) with relevance to the speaker always follows a speech in Maori protocol. It has become a tradition in Parliament, particularly after land settlement acts for the members within the public gallery to either haka or sing a waiata. Regardless of their lifestyle or personal opinion on the matter this marked a moment of unity within the parliament building as lawmakers and members of the public joined together in an expression of love. From today onwards this will hopefully result in further tolerance and acceptance of LGBTQ persons within society. This was a wonderful and heartfelt moment for all who were watching the broadcast of the event in bars, pubs and homes around New Zealand.
Video footage of the event can be seen here via InTheHouse Parliament TV on YouTube:
The video shows a truly beautiful moment in New Zealand's history. New Zealand now joins countries such as New Zealand, Belgium, Canada and Argentina to have legalised same sex marriage. Though bills have not yet been passed British lawmakers recently seemed in favour of such legislation with Ireland too considering a referendum on same-sex marriage in the near future.
Same-sex marriage, or 'marriage' as many of us like to call it, will have major benefits in society. The primary benefit is that it will help to normalise same-sex relationships and their family units. It will help to end or at least tackle the marginalisation and discrimination against gay, lesbian and queer persons. Hopefully in turn it will allow us to focus on other important issues that the LGBTQ community must face such as parental rejection and subsequent homelessness, harassment and even violence.
Though many would claim that gay marriage is something that could 'threaten' or 'change' the institution of marriage it has to be said that marriage is already an evolving institution. To become inclusive of same-sex marriage is hopefully just another change, most preferably a change that will slowly be adopted by more countries as time goes on. What must be considered here is that this is something to be celebrated because it paves the way for couples to solidify and celebrate their love and commitment. What's more beautiful than that?