New Zealand is once again debating the meaning of the word marriage in the wake of Tamati Coffey’s so-called wedding to his “partner”.
Tamati, a very like-able television weather presenter is openly gay and used his influence on Dancing with the Stars a few years back to raise awareness and money for the youth gay group Rainbow Youth.
This week, he and his “partner”, Tim Smith adorn the NZ Woman’s Weekly cover with the tag line “Tamati Coffey and Tim Smith’s wild wedding”.
Wedding? Two men hold a Civil Union ceremony and it is called a wedding? The Oxford Dictionary defines wedding as
a marriage ceremony, especially considered as including the associated celebrations.
Since when did New Zealand have gay weddings and hence gay marriage?
Oh, but I forgot. In April 2005 parliament passed the Civil Union Act which allowed all people (gay or not) to choose an alternative to the traditional marriage. But was it really an alternative to marriage or simply a play with words to keep the masses happy?
In 2010 73% of the 273 Civil Unions that took place in New Zealand were between gay couples. That’s a large majority of gay people using this avenue to legalise their relationships. For these people it is becoming increasingly clear that a Civil Union is a Marriage. And as far as the law is concerned it may as well be. There is no real difference in law between Civil Unions, DeFacto Relationships and traditional Marriage. We are now seeing the effects of this law enter into every day life – most people do not see the difference between traditional marriage and what were once irregular relationships.
The effects of this legislation on the minds of New Zealanders is certainly one where the definition of marriage has been redefined so much that we can now call a Civil Union between two gay men a wedding and be quite happy to splash it across the front cover of the Woman’s Weekly.
And then there are also civil unions between lesbians that are also treated as weddings,and the one commenter, Mrs C, who dared point out that a civil union was not a marriage was crticised for her views. I didn’t comment on this item, but must use a different name next time I’m commenting on Stuff as I see I’m not the only Stella. http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/weddings/weddings-of-the-week/6068055/Introducing-Theresa-and-Shar
Thanks Stella for the link. It is quite incredible how words can shift society’s thinking. And I think this is what is happening with the civil unions. When I was younger I had heard so much about semantics and the role they played in changing people’s values and was a little sceptical. Definitely not sceptical now.