It hasn’t only been a big birthday that I’ve been preparing for: On Saturday, January 24, Nigel and I are having our Civil Union, and my birthday party after that. We wanted something simple and low-key, and since the family was coming to Auckland for my birthday, anyway, we decided to do our Civil Union at the same time.
While we’d talked about this before, it was only at Christmas that we decided to do it, but it was a holiday time so it was difficult to get anything finalised. After New Year’s, we arranged for a celebrant, got the licence (above) and started making arrangements.
It’s fair to say that there’s really no such thing as “simple and low-key” for an event like this, but we’ve done well, especially by having it at home. What we have suits us very well (but I’m not talking specifics until it’s over).
Civil Unions in New Zealand are essentially civil marriage, since they convey virtually all the same rights, privileges and responsibilities of marriage, and—unlike marriage itself—they’re open to same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples. Civil Unions came into being in early 2005 (the law was passed in December 2004 by the former Labour-led Government). It was a compromise way to give same-sex couples legal standing equivalent to marriage because denying them that legal standing violated the Human Rights Act’s guarantee of equality.
The interesting thing is that New Zealand society is clearly moving ahead of the law. No one we know is referring to this as a Civil Union: They’re referring to it as our wedding and say we’re getting married (even though, legally speaking, that’s not true). Because of that, I think that full marriage equality will come to New Zealand sooner rather than later.
Whatever, I’ve always said I don’t care what it’s called in New Zealand as long as it gives full legal equality, as Civil Unions do. Nigel and I have been together 13 years, and we were already covered by the Relationships (Property) Act, which gives a lot of legal protections for unmarried couples. But Civil Unions go farther, essentially making us—legally—family—we become each other’s next-of-kin which has many important aspects.
The social and legal equality we gain is the main reason we’re doing this. But standing in front of our family and friends and having our relationship affirmed and supported by them, and especially having it recognised under the laws of our country, is something even greater. Every human being should be free to experience that.
There are a lot of things to take care of at a time like this, which is why both my blogging and podcasting have been more sporadic than usual lately. I like this kind of “busy”, yes I do.
Sorry about the "redaction" of the licence, but a little caution on the Interwebs is usually a good idea.