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Tuesday 11 April 2017

NZ's history-makers on an historic day

Posted in: Features
By Jacqui Stanford - 27th June 2013

Beyer and Wall (File Photo)
We caught up with our own marriage equality campaign leader Louisa Wall about the developments in the US and Australia, as she had popped in to check on someone else who has blazed plenty of trails – Georgina Beyer.

First things first, Beyer says she is doing better, after the frightening revelation she has been diagnosed with chronic kidney failure.

“I’ve had a couple of little setbacks, but otherwise I’m going ok,” the woman who famously became the world’s first trans MP tells us. Messages of love and support have come from far and wide. “Everybody’s been really good,” Beyer says, laughing that she has even received a few offers of kidneys.

Wall was checking on Beyer and seeing what could be done to help when we spoke to both women, who are incredibly excited at Defense of Marriage Act being declared unconstitutional and overturned in the US - and California’s marriage ban being left for dead.

The overturning of DOMA means that married gay couples in states which recognise same-sex marriage will get the same federal rights as other marriage couples.

“That federal recognition is just amazing,” Wall says, while Beyer adds: “I hope Obama may take it as a positive thing to be able to further it from his level.”

We discuss the New Zealanders in relationships with Americans who, if they marry in a US state which has marriage equality, will be able to apply for a green card. Wall says it marks a maturing American society, “that everybody who has committed themselves in these partnerships now has equal rights to anyone else. This is what the whole agenda and campaign has been about; that we are normal human beings and that we have equal right to full citizenship.”

Beyer is full of congratulations for our GLBTI brothers and sisters in the US, saying it has been a long, hard battle. “There’s a little way to go, but absolute congratulations to the gay activists and their supporters, for getting this through.”

Wall agrees it has been a long hard road in the US and hopes the celebrations are amazing, which were what she loved about the New Zealand journey. “This is a huge moment, it’s a wonderful moment for us all to celebrate how we have extended our rights,” she says, delighted that New Zealand has been among the leaders of the pack.

“To see others moving towards joining us in that equality and full citizenship for LGBTI communities is I think creating an opportunity for the next generations of our communities to live full, happy and healthy lives, which is what we all aspire to do.”

Beyer is hopeful things won’t turn nasty as there is a ‘hysterical reaction’ from the anti-gay movement.

“The conservative and far-right religious movements over there will all just go into some sort of hysteria about it now and whip up even more fervour,” she predicts.

“I just don’t want to see things happen and occur like the French did … I watched the violence on television over there and thought ‘my God I’m glad we live in New Zealand’.”

Across the ditch

Kevin Rudd
There has also been a movement marriage equality advocates are hailing in Australia, with Kevin Rudd becoming Prime Minister again – this time around he has already declared his backing for marriage equality.

Wall points out another development, in lesbian Labor MP Penny Wong becoming Senate leader.

“It is a great sign,” she says. I hope there is some clarity in that Labor will go into the election campaign saying that when they get back in, marriage equality is going to be one of the priorities in terms of the policy agenda that they will take to the Australian people.”

Wall hopes marriage equality is a defining issue in the election campaign.

Jacqui Stanford - 27th June 2013

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