December 09, 2004

Finding a Role Model

David W Young writes a letter:

Dear Alan Ivory,

Thank you for your email to DogBitingMen. First up, you're right: the introduction to my last column on gay marriage was indeed "insufferably superior".

I'm glad you introduced yourself. I want to say thank you. It made my day to read what you did in 1979:

Along with others, I manoeuvred to sink a Bill introduced by the well-meaning MP Warren Freer which would have decriminalised homosexual sex only for those over 21 in private. We would settle only for equality.

We succeeded in sinking that Bill to the considerable anger of well-meaning liberals who accused us of biting the hand that fed us. (We should be grateful for being given some of our rights? We didn't think so.)

History proved you right to insist on equality or nothing. You and your friends formed the Equality Bill Campaign and drafted the legislation that would eventually become the Fran Wilde-sponsored Bill. It took five whole years, but your waiting paid off.

You came out a year before I was born. I wonder when things changed - when equality became something that we should delay for tomorrow's fight, rather than strive for today. I wonder when gay and lesbian New Zealanders started to think so little of ourselves.

I just don't get it. Why does everybody seem so excited about civil unions, when adoption rights and full marriage will continue to be kept only for people born heterosexual?

Let's look online. The flock of civil union advocates includes Xavier and Tristan from AbouTown, my mate Ben Thomas from DogBitingMen, Russell Brown, Jordan Carter , Constar, Dorking Labs, David Farrar, Generation Y Not? ... I'm doing this list alphabetically and can't be bothered subjecting myself to reading anybody past G, so we can just agree there's shitloads.

Meanwhile, other than the odd reasonable commentary this side of the argument is embarrassingly lonely. Ex-National Party MP Marilyn Waring seems the only public figure who gets it. MPs proposed lots of last-minute changes to the Civil Union Bill. Not a single member of parliament (nor even one of those supposedly activist "youth" wings of the political parties) proposed dumping the Bill and replacing it with a rewriting of the Marriage Act that would allow full marriage. Not a single one. Not even as a token gesture.

I'm really grateful you shared your experience. Maybe these things go in waves. Perhaps in another twenty-five years the gay kids of the current Compromise Generation will share your spirit and resolve. I hope so.

Kind regards,
David W Young

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