Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How the day went

The arrival of marriage equality in New Zealand yesterday was an historic mark of progress, but it was also a day of happiness. For the most part, the news media struck the right tone for the day, joining in the celebratory mood as they presented upbeat stories. The exceptions came across as tacky, not disturbing.

Companies got into the act, too, of course. Air New Zealand hosted a wedding at 30,000 feet (the airline tweeted the photo above. This makes sense for them: They stand to make money from LGBT couples flying to New Zealand for their wedding or honeymoon. Around 40,000 couples a year come here for that, and New Zealand is the only country in the Asia-Pacific region with marriage equality.

The potential for tourism dollars from foreign LGBT couples is also the reason that Tourism New Zealand sponsored a competition with Australia’s Star Observer newspaper to find an Aussie gay couple to marry in New Zealand yesterday. The winning couple was married in Wellington, and received coverage in the NZ news, including the fact that their marriage will cease to exist the moment they return to Australia because their home country stubbornly refuses to embrace marriage equality and doesn’t recognise legal overseas marriages if the couple is LGBT.

News media reporting on the day were generally positive. 3News was probably the best, in my opinion: Happy, positive and upbeat. The New Zealand Herald was also positive in its coverage on the day (here’s today’s story, for example).

TVNZ’s One News was weird. They basically live-blogged the day, but amid their upbeat and light-hearted coverage for some reason they felt they needed to report that one of the leading anti-gay politicians was moaning about how it wasn’t a day for celebration. That was totally unnecessary and came across as downright tacky—more for One News than the whingeing perennial rightwing candidate, whose anti-gay rhetoric is as predictable as it is boring.

In their evening report, One News included video of that same perennial rightwing candidate, which was even more pointless and wrong than in their live blogging: He is an anti-gay bigot whose prejudice against gay people is well known. There was absolutely no point in including him or his pontificating whingeing. One News presenters also said that LGBT New Zealanders said that marriage equality was “the first step”. Dead wrong: We all say it’s an IMPORTANT step (the “first step” was taken decades ago). Their phrasing plays into rightwing rhetoric that we have some sort of “secret agenda” to destroy the family, turn everyone gay and make quality fashion compulsory (okay, I made up that last one, but it’s in keeping with their delusional lunacy).

As bad as TV One was, right-leaning NewstalkZB was worse. On their website, they printed a story that quoted New Zealand’s leading anti-gay bigot whose lies, distortions, falsehoods and deception I’ve repeatedly debunked on this blog. Like much of the mainstream news media (apparently including One News), the radio station apparently felt they HAD to include an anti-gay bigot for some sort if imaginary “balance”. That’s understandable, of course: After all, they always ask racists to speak on Maori issues—oh, wait, they NEVER do that. My mistake; I thought since they believe in balance and fairness, and to them that means always seeking out bigots to talk about minority rights, they must then always do that. I forgot that their obsession with “balance” only applies to LGBT issues. At any rate, this indiscretion was on their website; I’d be willing to bet that most of their talkback hosts were not exactly positive, but I never listen to any of them, so I wouldn’t know.

Despite those lowlights, the day was mostly positive, and sometimes in unexpected ways.

In addition to businesses with a direct interest in promoting LGBT weddings, some others got in on the act, too. Online auction site Trade Me had their little blue Kiwi mascot, named Kevin, fly the rainbow flag in his beak (image below). Hovering the mouse over the icon revealed a pop up title, “Kevin supports marriage equality.” Nice.

Westpac New Zealand, one of our biggest banks, changed their main page for the day to feature stills from their “Start Asking” ad. The first slide, pictured below, was of a gay couple’s wedding. They also started running their commercial again, too.

It was a really good day yesterday, and thanks to most of the newsmedia (and quite a few businesses), all of us could share in the happiness of the couples who were finally allowed to marry yesterday. Congratulations to them all—and to New Zealand.

Related: Modern Family actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who was on the Air NZ wedding flight, spoke to TV3’s Campbell Live about marriage equality.


Logan said...

How funny that I used both Trademe and Westpac without noticing the changes (likely because I don't thing gay marriage is out of the norm). Wonder if others were upset...?

In any case, I hope Australia gets their act together soon!

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Yeah, I actually didn't pay attention, either, until I saw Trade Me's site (although I had to be told about Kevin's speech bubble—I didn't notice that myself!).

Naturally, I didn't want to dwell in the reactions of the "nattering nabobs of negativitism", but from what I could tell from a quick look, they're sort of impotently shaking their fists at the imaginary castles they think they have under siege, declaring they're right no matter what, no matter that they lost. Same old, same old.