BREAKING: New Zealand Lawmakers Burst into Song Upon Enacting Marriage Equality

04.17.2013, 10:16 AM

(thanks to my wife for the link!)

On Wednesday, local time, the New Zealand House of Commons passed a bill allowing same-sex marriage (they have had civil unions for same-sex couples since 2005). Upon declaration of the passage of the bill, the chamber burst into song.

Here is a video, which I think is adorable and absolutely made my day.

Congratulations New Zealanders of all orientations!


48 Responses to “BREAKING: New Zealand Lawmakers Burst into Song Upon Enacting Marriage Equality”

  1. David Blankenhorn says:

    Very moving.

  2. Terbreugghen says:

    Sorry, should have been a lament.

  3. They’re singing a Maori love song called “Pokarekare ana,” which, Wikipedia tells me, is sometimes called New Zealand’s unofficial national anthem.

    During the debate, “Te Ururoa Flavell gave a wonderful speech with a Maori perspective, detailing the pre-colonial Maori history of same-sex relationships and how this supports marriage equality. A great counter argument to those who say ‘traditional marriage.’ Whose tradition?”

    The legislator in the gorgeous rainbow coat is Louisa Wall, the sponsor of the legislation.

  4. Jake says:

    It’s a great day for New Zealand. What a pity we’re lagging so far behind.

  5. Anna Cook says:

    Terbreugghen,

    If you think it should be a lament, I don’t think there’s any reason to qualify that statement with a disingenuous “sorry.”

    Barry,

    Thanks for the further info and links!

    What I think is so interesting about this video is the contrast to what I imagine a similar scene might be like in the U.S. Perhaps I am wrong, but I just don’t see lawmakers being openly celebratory about such a move, regardless of whether they supported the measure or not. Maybe I am selling American politicians short!

  6. Diane M says:

    Beautiful.

    They lyrics of the song are very sweet.

  7. Myca says:

    They’re singing a Maori love song called “Pokarekare ana,” which, Wikipedia tells me, is sometimes called New Zealand’s unofficial national anthem.

    How wonderful and appropriate that it’s a love song. :)

    During the debate, “Te Ururoa Flavell gave a wonderful speech with a Maori perspective, detailing the pre-colonial Maori history of same-sex relationships and how this supports marriage equality. A great counter argument to those who say ‘traditional marriage.’ Whose tradition?”

    Yes. Right. Exactly.

    I wrote a post years ago about how the argument from tradition is just a thin veneeer over an argument from religion. There were many pre-Christian examples of socially, religiously, and legally endorsed same-sex pairings that get conveniently glossed over with talk about ‘traditional marriage.’

    —Myca

  8. Myca says:

    Gawd, it sucks to be right all the time.

    Yes, because one article on Slate is pretty much the same as the NZ government endorsing it. Wow, you sure are right all the time.

    Look, if there’s an argument for polygamous marriage, we’ll have it. We’ll debate it. We’ll decide. I’m not actually sure which side I would come down on.

    SSM does not lead inexorably to polygamous marriage any more than the legalization of divorce lead inexorably to SSM. Rather they all stem from the same cause, which is the growing refusal of citizen in a free society to be governed by the religious dictates of religions to which they do not belong. I can see how that would upset you.

    —Myca

  9. annajcook says:

    Thank you for the thoughtful piece in Slate, Greg. I wish the author, Jillian Keenan, had clarified what type of polygamy she was picturing; all her examples were, in fact, polygyny (one man with multiple wives). I wonder if she is thinking more broadly about other poly forms as well.

    I was struck by this passage:

    Two-parent families are not the reality for millions of American children. Divorce, remarriage, surrogate parents, extended relatives, and other diverse family arrangements mean families already come in all sizes—why not recognize that legally?

    I think that (on a super simplistic level) the conservative-liberal divide over family policy issues might be characterized as idealism vs. pragmatism? And I don’t mean idealistic in a negative sense. But that on the one hand, marriage “traditionalists” seek to actively encourage certain family forms over others, while on the other progressives think in terms of meeting family needs where they are at? Perhaps it’s a difference in how we see public policy: as constructive of or responsive to the citizenry?

  10. Mont D. Law says:

    ( Rather they all stem from the same cause, which is the growing refusal of citizen in a free society to be governed by the religious dictates of religions to which they do not belong.)

    Or a religion to which they belong but feel free to disagree with. Like the 54% of Dr. Popcak’s fellow American Catholics who support marriage equality.

  11. Diane M says:

    @annajcook – As a progressive, I absolutely want to encourage certain family forms over others. I see nothing wrong with that.

    I see marriage as endorsing and supporting relationships. We have a choice as to which relationships we want to support.

    @Myca – I don’t think this is historically true, at least not part about the growing refusal of citizens to be governed by religious dictates being the case of same sex marriage, etc.:

    “SSM does not lead inexorably to polygamous marriage any more than the legalization of divorce lead inexorably to SSM. Rather they all stem from the same cause, which is the growing refusal of citizen in a free society to be governed by the religious dictates of religions to which they do not belong. I can see how that would upset you.”

    Legal divorce has been around as long as marriage. One aspect of the Protestant Reformation was allowing for divorce. Marriage and divorce have been connected to religion, but they have also been cultural constructions.

    If you are referring to no-fault divorce, that was a recent American movement that had absolutely nothing to do with religion, secularism, or anti-government attitudes. It was simply that lawyers in the field of family law thought the fault system of divorce led to fabricating evidence or nasty legal battles that hurt the family.

    Supporters of same sex marriage come from many different perspectives. I support it because I am a hopeless romantic who wants loving couples to be able to make a lifelong commitment to each other.

    Most of the same couples I know who get married are deeply religious people who want a religious ceremony celebrating and announcing their commitment to each other.

    Within my religious denomination, many support the idea of same sex marriage and we are moving towards it being supported by everyone.

    In the long run, I hope that we will come to a time when most religious groups support same sex marriage.

    I don’t see this as a movement for secularism or against religion.

    I would, of course, be upset if I saw legalizing same sex marriage as an anti-religious movement. I just don’t think that is remotely accurate.

  12. Myca says:

    Or a religion to which they belong but feel free to disagree with. Like the 54% of Dr. Popcak’s fellow American Catholics who support marriage equality.

    Or it may be that their theological understanding is just a little more sophisticated than ‘agree’ or ‘disagree.’ As CS Lewis put it in Mere Christianity,

    A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one. I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the Mohammedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine.

    In other words, it’s possible to both personally oppose something (divorce, alcohol, SSM) and think it ought to be legal for people who don’t share your religion.

    —Myca

  13. Myca says:

    I don’t see this as a movement for secularism or against religion.

    I would, of course, be upset if I saw legalizing same sex marriage as an anti-religious movement. I just don’t think that is remotely accurate.

    Not, no, not at all. I didn’t say “refusal of citizen in a free society to be governed by the religious dictates of religion because religions are crazy and wrong,” I said “refusal of citizen in a free society to be governed by the religious dictates of religions to which they do not belong.

    I attend a Unitarian-Universalist Church. I am a member of a religion. My religion recognizes same-sex marriage (because it’s the right moral and ethical thing to do). I don’t think that the members of my religion ought to be bound by the religious dictates of a religion to which they do not belong.

    This isn’t about secularism. It’s about the insistence by some religious people that everyone has to play by their rules.

    —Myca

  14. Anna Cook says:

    Diane writes (in response to my comment above):

    As a progressive, I absolutely want to encourage certain family forms over others. I see nothing wrong with that. … I see marriage as endorsing and supporting relationships. We have a choice as to which relationships we want to support.

    Mmm. Point taken. I am struggling for language here to describe the distinction I see (for myself and a certain cohort, at least — I recognize “progressive” is an umbrella term and you are free to articulate a different strand of progressivism here!).

    Perhaps the sticking point for me would be the word “form”? I’m not very interested in endorsing certain family forms over others. I want all people, regardless of the family form they are in, to thrive. So my primary interest is in function: is this family functioning to enhance family members’ well-being? Well, obviously not if there is abuse going on, or someone is violating the terms of agreement for family formation. But the form itself is immaterial to me as a form, per se.

    So, with that in mind, I advocate for policy tools and laws that help to support all individuals and the families they form and find themselves in — rather than penalizing people for the types of families, per se, that they create or live in, or coercing them through laws and policies into creating certain types of families (because of the threat of material or social loss if they follow another path).

    Again, I — like you — have fundamental social values that I believe are important for us to support. The value of not being sexually violated, for example, or coerced into a relationship you do not want. The value of all human beings having material security in the form of food, shelter, medical care, access to education, and work that pays a living wage. The value of family members having legally-recognized relationships with one another that protect both the individual AND their relationships in times of crisis (domestic violence laws, for example, and frameworks for relationship dissolution, and protections for spouses and parents and children to ensure each is accessible to the other in times of need).

    So perhaps my point is that it seems (from my lefty perspective) that “traditionalist” folks are over-preoccupied with forms — forms that mean different things to different people, and forms which serve some people well but others not at all — to the detriment of ensuring that functionality is protected. That regardless of family form, families (and the individuals within them) are supported and honored in our society.

  15. Mont D. Law says:

    (I don’t see this as a movement for secularism or against religion.)

    In the US and New Zealand it is strictly secular issue. Civil marriage has no religious component and any conflicts will be settled by the legislature and the courts based on civil principles. In that sense it is clearly a secular movement, a movement for secularism and a victory for secularists.

  16. Diane M says:

    @Mont D Law – As a legal issue, it is, of course, not about religion. As a movement, I think it is about both.

    “In the US and New Zealand it is strictly secular issue. Civil marriage has no religious component and any conflicts will be settled by the legislature and the courts based on civil principles. In that sense it is clearly a secular movement, a movement for secularism and a victory for secularists.”

    It’s interesting, but I don’t see same sex marriage as a secular movement or a movement for secularism. I certainly don’t see it as a victory for secularists.

    I guess that’s because I came to the movement through religion. Same sex marriage has been something religious groups have been discussing and debating for decades – much longer than it has been an issue for the government and law.

    Legal recognition of same sex marriages is vital, but so is social acceptance. Most people are religious and secularists aren’t going to be able to get anything on their own.

  17. Diane M says:

    @Anna Cook – Very interesting. I see form and function as linked. So I would say that some forms promote the function of their members thriving better than others. I want society to promote those forms and not promote other forms.

    To use a different example of family form and function – in some societies, the form of marriage is specifically patriarchal. People’s rights in the family and who decides who is married or divorced are set up in a way that gives men more rights than women. I don’t think that form is good for promoting the thriving of all of its members. Thus, I don’t want our laws to endorse families set up that way.

    In addition, I think our families are part of communities. So there might be times when a family form like polygamy or year-and-a-day marriage is bad for the rest of the community. It doesn’t just affect the couple.

    Families and how they work determine whether or not our communities work. So communities can and should promote families that will work in a good way.

    I also think that with time and experience, we often have wisdom to pass on. Social norms about marriage reflect this.

    I don’t think this is exactly about traditionalism or not. You can have a form you want to promote that is not traditional, and many feminists do promote certain types of marriage.

  18. nobody.really says:

    [O]ur families are part of communities. So there might be times when a family form like polygamy or year-and-a-day marriage is bad for the rest of the community. It doesn’t just affect the couple.

    Families and how they work determine whether or not our communities work. So communities can and should promote families that will work in a good way.

    I also think that with time and experience, we often have wisdom to pass on. Social norms about marriage reflect this.

    To me, this phrases the challenge of “non-traditional marriage” well. Society should not constrain its members any more than necessary. But conversely, society SHOULD constrain its members where necessary – and specifically, where necessary for the maintenance of society.

    We can disagree about which constraints are necessary. But the point is, there may well be constraints that ARE necessary for the maintenance of society – even if no individual in society has an incentive to maintain those constraints. Game theory categorizes these circumstances (e.g., Tragedy of the Commons; Prisoner’s Dilemma.) If everyone is left to pursue his or her own interests – even if no one objects to these pursuits – society as a whole may suffer. Bottom line: Contrary to the libertarian creed, individual freedom + property rights != nirvana.

    Arguably, “tradition” embodies some mindless nonsense, and some vital social constraints. The challenge is in distinguishing between the two.

    I’ll wrap up this ramble with a citation to a paper addressing one aspect of this challenge: Why not polygamy? After all, polygamy appears to promote the interests of the powerful. We would expect the powerful to establish and enforce social norms that promote their own interests. So why do we find polygamy dying out? Answer: Monogamous societies prove to be more adaptive and out-compete polygamous ones.

    In other words, monogamy is necessary of the maintenance of society. By this understanding, people who engage in polygamy are engaged in a kind of pollution, imposing a cost on others – even if the others don’t recognize it.

  19. annajcook says:

    nobody.really writes:

    In other words, monogamy is necessary of the maintenance of society. By this understanding, people who engage in polygamy are engaged in a kind of pollution, imposing a cost on others – even if the others don’t recognize it.

    I’d rather this thread did NOT become an extended discussion about poly relationships and family types, per se, but I would like to point out that this rationale was and still is used regularly to discriminate against monogamous same-sex couples in committed relationships … that our relationship choices are by virtue of existing “imposing a cost on others” and leading to the crumbling of civil society.

    I don’t think we’re going to achieve agreement on the more-than-two marriages question in this thread (or probably ever), but it’s important to keep in mind that the arguments used to discriminate against more-than-two marriages are often the same or similar to the type of fear-mongering that was and is used against queer couples.

  20. Mont D. Law says:

    (We can disagree about which constraints are necessary)

    And those disagreements are going to be settled, at least in the US, based on secular principles. For example Mormons are great at both family and community, but making everyone convert is a no go because of the secular value placed on freedom of religion.

    (Arguably, “tradition” embodies some mindless nonsense, and some vital social constraints. The challenge is in distinguishing between the two.)

    And that challenge in the United States will be met by secular organizations tasked with balancing the rights of citizens. Social acceptance is far less important than legal acceptance.

  21. Diane M says:

    @Mont D Law – I only half agree.

    “And that challenge in the United States will be met by secular organizations tasked with balancing the rights of citizens. Social acceptance is far less important than legal acceptance.”

    Courts are going to have to make judgments about what rights and limits make sense. They are going to have to do this using non-religious reasons.

    However, in practice what laws we pass and what rights we have are based on what people in our society believe, not just on the Constitution. In the case of same sex marriage, social acceptance clearly came before there were any laws allowing same sex marriage or civil unions anywhere. First we as a society had to get past the idea that just being LBGT was shameful and that it was okay to discriminate against people who were LBGT. We are not all the way there, but most people have radically different attitudes than 20 or 30 years ago.

    In a democracy, social acceptance drives the law.

    And for something like marriage, in the long run, social acceptance matters. Marriage is much more than a civil institution. It’s also your mother-in-law inviting you for Thanksgiving dinner.

  22. Diane M says:

    @Anna Cook – “I’d rather this thread did NOT become an extended discussion about poly relationships and family types, per se, but I would like to point out that this rationale was and still is used regularly to discriminate against monogamous same-sex couples in committed relationships … that our relationship choices are by virtue of existing “imposing a cost on others” and leading to the crumbling of civil society.”

    I disagree for two reasons:

    1. If we carry this to the logical extreme, then no one can ever argue that a particular change in marriage law would impose a cost on others or hurt civil society. The fact that arguments like that have been used against same sex marriage should not mean that we have to accept any form of marriage or any change in marriage law.

    I think this is one of the problems we face now. Because people tried to prohibit same sex marriage, now some supporters of same sex marriage are opposed to any kinds of limits on marriage. I think some limits are a good thing, both for the community and for most individuals.

    2. There is a big difference between the argument that allowing same sex marriages would hurt other marriages and the argument that polygamous marriages would hurt other marriages. One is false and one is true. :-)

    There are plenty of blogs and comments on this site showing the differences in the arguments, so I’m not going to repeat them. I think Barry Deutsch had a blog that said it well.

    I think nobody.really and the article he links to make the point that polygamy affects the community well. In the case of polygamy, we have a lot of evidence about how it actually works.

  23. nobody.really says:

    Laws are always unstable unless they are founded on the manners of a nation; and manners are the only durable and resisting power in a people.

    Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol. 1, Chap. XVI (1835)

    Laws are sand, customs are rock. Laws can be evaded and punishment escaped but an openly transgressed custom brings sure punishment.

    Mark Twain, The Gorky Incident

    [Liberty] is the product not of institutions, but of a temper, of an attitude towards life; of that mood that looks before and after and pines for what it is not. It is idle to look to laws or courts, or principalities, or powers to secure it. You may write into your constitutions not ten, but fifty, amendments, and it shall not help a farthing, for casuistry will undermine it as casuistry should, if it have no stay but law. It is secure only in that … sense of fair play, of give and take, and the uncertainty of human hypothesis, of how changeable and passing are our surest convictions, which has so hard a chance to survive in any times, perhaps especially in our own.

    Learned Hand, In Commemoration of Fifty Years of Federal Judicial Service, 264 F.2d xxxviii (2d Cir. 1959).

  24. Mont D. Law says:

    (However, in practice what laws we pass and what rights we have are based on what people in our society believe, not just on the Constitution.)

    The laws the legislature passes and the Governor/President signs into law may be based on anything or nothing at all. Any local, state or federal government may pass any law it wants. Then the citizens affected by that law may seek redress in the courts. The court decides if any given law is constitutional or not.

    (In a democracy, social acceptance drives the law.)

    Then explain why Loving even made it to court. There was no wide spread support for miscegenation in the ’60s. Or school desegregation. Or public accommodation or abortion.

    In this particular case it seems to be driven by social acceptance, but it shouldn’t be.

    Plus the widespread social acceptance of marriage equality is being driven by secular principles almost entirely.

  25. Mont D. Law says:

    (There is a big difference between the argument that allowing same sex marriages would hurt other marriages and the argument that polygamous marriages would hurt other marriages. One is false and one is true.)

    First, legal arguments made in front of actual courts were not argued on the basis pologamy would hurt other marriages, they were made on first amendment grounds. In all cases that I know of pologamy lost because under the secular law religious freedom is not an unlimited right.

    Secondly, the argument that pologamy hurts other marriages is not vey convincing and like a similar arguments being made in marriage equality cases won’t get very far. Court’s deal with individual rights for the most part, not groups. Successful arguments against pologamy will focus on the rights of the people in the marriage, particularly the women and children.

  26. Kevin says:

    “I’d rather this thread did NOT become an extended discussion about poly relationships and family types”

    That’s probably just as well, since the mechanics of arguing about legalizing same-sex marriage are so different from the mechanics of arguing about polygamy. The former involves deciding whether immutable personal characteristics can be used to deny the right to marry to a person, and if the existing marriage protocol (different-sex couples only), can adequately accommodate the needs of the restricted minority. There’s also a constitutional issue of equal protection involved.

    “Wanting to be in a polygamous marital arrangement” is not an immutable personal characteristic, and merely represents a desired arrangement, like owning three cars instead of just one. It may be based on a religion-affiliated idea but no religion requires polygamy as a crucial component of religious expression, that I know of. There’s no equal protection concern that I see; courts would likely conclude that a two-person marriage is a reasonable alternative to a three-or-more-person marriage.

    I think there’s a big difference between telling someone they can’t own a car (in a society where owning one is hugely advantageous) and they can’t own three cars. That’s why discussing same-sex marriage is a completely different thing from discussing multi-person marriage.

  27. Jake says:

    I have absolutely no idea what marriage equality for gay Americans has to do with polygamy, polygyny, or poly anything. Plus what Kevin said.

  28. Diane M says:

    @Mont D Law “(In a democracy, social acceptance drives the law.)

    Then explain why Loving even made it to court. There was no wide spread support for miscegenation in the ’60s. Or school desegregation. Or public accommodation or abortion.”

    The decision in the Loving case (1967) came after the civil rights movement had been changing America and public opinion. It came after the Civil Rights Act (1964).

    Brown v Board of Education (1954) was more of a sea change. In that case, the Supreme Court made segregation illegal. On the other hand, nothing happened to enforce the law until there was a civil rights movement.

    It’s not that the Supreme Court doesn’t matter. The Constitution is a great thing and sometimes it is the only thing that protects minority rights.

    It’s just that practically, changes in public opinion seem to come before the court system makes huge changes. In addition, Congress can always change laws if it really wants to.

  29. Diane M says:

    @Jake “I have absolutely no idea what marriage equality for gay Americans has to do with polygamy, polygyny, or poly anything. Plus what Kevin said.”

    It should have nothing to do with it.

    It comes up for two reasons:

    People who oppose same sex marriage are afraid it will lead to allowing polygamy;

    and

    Some people who support polygamy try to make the argument that it should be legal and refer back to allowing same-sex marriage.

    And I also agree with what Kevin said.

  30. Mont D. Law says:

    (The decision in the Loving case (1967) came after the civil rights movement had been changing America and public opinion. It came after the Civil Rights Act (1964).)

    This is just not the case.

    (In 1991 a Gallop Poll found that, for the first time, more people in the United States approved of interracial marriages (48%) then disapproved (42%).)

    (Brown v Board of Education (1954) was more of a sea change. In that case, the Supreme Court made segregation illegal. On the other hand, nothing happened to enforce the law until there was a civil rights movement.)

    That is, again, not the case. Wallace blocked the schoolhouse door in 1963. The Boston bussing riots were in 1974. Social acceptance did not exist.

  31. Matt N says:

    I haven’t posted on this because I’ve been trying to absorb more of the specific legal and social context in New Zealand on this issue. I find it interesting that the past decade has primarily been about establishing anti-LGBT* violence as nationally prohibited hate crimes and other anti-discrimination measures and marriage equality is only being proposed now.

    There’s quite a bit of in-fighting within the US over how many larger “gay rights” organizations (namely HRC, Lambda Legal, and GLAAD) have focused mostly if not exclusively on marriage equality and particularly allowed protections for trans* people (whether against discrimination or against hate crimes) to go ignored. It seems like New Zealand has largely avoided those battles, thankfully, and while getting those measures in place nationally and now being on the cusp on nation-wide recognition of same-sex and same-gender couples. It’s hard to admit, but we’ve been outdone.

    On a similar note, the US has been marred by a lot of bigotry between straight and cisgender people of color and White LGBT* people. Far too often the same behaviors are seen as simply being “traditional” for Whites but “homophobic” for people of color (particularly Black and Latin@ people). I worry that too many White LGBT* people (For instance, on Ryan Murphy’s Glee, White homophobes are either confused or closeted – ones of color don’t get that same examination) perpetuate that double standard in a way that’s really harmful and racist.

    There’s a really long and painful discussion to be had about that, so I’ll just keep it short and say that it’s quite inspiring that the overlapping Maori and LGBT* communities (Louisa Wells is after all a member of both) have worked together on this and other issues really well. I hope that alliance continues to be productive in helping both of those marginalized groups receive what they need from the rest of New Zealand.

    Diane M: “Because people tried to prohibit same sex marriage, now some supporters of same sex marriage are opposed to any kinds of limits on marriage. I think some limits are a good thing, both for the community and for most individuals.

    I’m curious if you have any actual examples of this phenomena (and no, the Salon article quoted upthread by Greg doesn’t really count). Many of the people I know who are in or would opt for a polyamorous relationship are actually very dissatisfied with how same-sex and same-gender marriage has been prioritized.

    Admittedly this was a while ago, but I actually remember in the aftermath of Proposition 8 having a very heated discussion with one of them who couldn’t bring himself to vote against the proposition since what he viewed as true marriage equality hadn’t been achieved (I’ll let the rest of you puzzle out how his inaction was anything like a solution… I know I still am).

    Anna Cook: “I’d rather this thread did NOT become an extended discussion about poly relationships and family types

    I’d like to second this. There seems to be a consistent pattern to arguments about same-sex and same-gender marriage that few people (whether straight or queer; cisgender or genderqueer) want to actually acknowledge the existence of same-sex and same-gender relationships.

    Last month, while marriage equality was being discussed before the US Supreme Court, people focused the discussion around how marriage equality might impact immigration policies, access to health benefits, and other broad political structures. That’s not a conversation we can’t have, but it replaced an examination of the right of queer families to dignity and respect whether immigrating, accessing healthcare, or otherwise navigating life.

    That way of approaching the issue seems related to a consistent attitude both here and in other forums, that whenever families centered around same-sex / same-gender relationships are discussed, plural marriages and kinks and all sorts of other “deviant” practices are equally up for grabs in the comments section. It’s an attitude that doesn’t really seem to what to observe queer sexualities and romances and sexualities as existent, identifiable things, so much as a segue into another issue or three. It’s alright the first couple of times, sure, because there are other important issues in the world, but when it seems like the only way people will discuss the needs and rights of your family…

  32. Diane M says:

    @Mont D Law – I think we’re looking at social acceptance differently.

    By the time of the Loving case, there was more support for integration than there had been. There was more sympathy in general for the civil rights movement. That does not mean that people all approved of integration, particularly not interracial marriage. But social sentiment was moving and you had stories or TV shows suggesting that interracial love might be okay.

    I am not sure what you mean about Brown v. Board of Ed. The bussing riots came after there was general acceptance of integration in principle.

    My point, though, was that the Supreme Court made a change in that case, but that social disapproval kept anything from happening to enforce their decision. The civil rights movement changed people’s minds.

    I would argue, however, that even there, there had been a movement for integration going on for a while. There were people who supported it and that made a difference.

  33. Anna Cook says:

    Matt N.,

    Thanks for your thoughts, and I look forward to (hopefully!?) a post by you about the New Zealand process that has created this moment.

    I, like you, am concerned that “same-sex marriage” as a touch-point issue here in the U.S. has led to glossing over the much deeper and more complicated questions of margin-vs-center, oppression of minority groups, intersecting oppression, alliance-building … and NOT throwing certain groups under the bus in order to win “respectable” rights (though it’s a dissertation in itself how same-sex marriage became the mainstream, staid option in so short a time!).

    I also like the way you put this:

    It’s an attitude that doesn’t really seem to what to observe queer sexualities and romances and sexualities as existent, identifiable things, so much as a segue into another issue or three.

    I, myself, can be eager to get on to the “next” topic of discussion, since I like to explore the connections between ideas and political causes. But you offer an important reminder that — even as full marriage equality may not be fully achieved with same-sex dyadic marriage — we same-sex couples in monogamous marriages DO deserve acknowledgement and centering at some points in the conversation. Our lives are not merely some lamentable political event that will become the “gateway” to Reprehensible Practice X.

  34. Diane M says:

    @Matt N – “Diane M: “Because people tried to prohibit same sex marriage, now some supporters of same sex marriage are opposed to any kinds of limits on marriage.”

    I’m curious if you have any actual examples of this phenomena (and no, the Salon article quoted upthread by Greg doesn’t really count).”

    I think for the purpose of this discussion, the Salon article has to count. I did not say many or most, just some. I recognize that the article is outside the mainstream and does not have much support or chance of getting anywhere.

    In addition, Anna Cook was making the argument that when we think about arguments against polygamy, we should remember that similar arguments were made against same sex marriage and were oppressive.

    I have seen other articles making the same argument. I do not want to spend time looking for them and I think it would just make us spend even more time discussing polygamy!

    “Last month, while marriage equality was being discussed before the US Supreme Court, people focused the discussion around how marriage equality might impact immigration policies, access to health benefits, and other broad political structures.”

    Depending on how you frame it, that discussion could be about the rights of LBGT couples and families. I would say those are very important reasons to allow people to marry.

    “I’ve been trying to absorb more of the specific legal and social context in New Zealand on this issue. I find it interesting that the past decade has primarily been about establishing anti-LGBT* violence as nationally prohibited hate crimes and other anti-discrimination measures and marriage equality is only being proposed now.”

    It looks to me like one of the things that has helped in New Zealand is that they smaller than we are. We have to make progress state by state before we can get to the federal level.

  35. Victor says:

    Matt N.,

    I think the two factors are that 1. NZ is much smaller than the US, and 2. they’re more left (it’s no secret the US is on average much more to the right compared to the rest of the developed countries). Which states got permanent marriage equality first? The smaller ones in the Northeast. (MA squeaking by back in the day without a constitutional amendment.)

  36. mythago says:

    @Diane M: I’m guessing you didn’t actually read the article Greg linked to, which is in Slate, not Salon. That aside, “some people who believe in X also believe in Y” is meaningless. If some opponents of same-sex marriage believe gays should be executed – and there are in fact ‘some’ who do – would it be fair of me to start a discussion speculating that if Proposition 8 is upheld, that we can expect to see a huge push by its supporters to make homosexuality a capital crime?

  37. Diane M says:

    @Mythago – Actually, I read the article, I just got the name of the blog wrong. A kind of mental typo.

    In general I think that if a significant number of opponents to same sex marriage are worried about an issue, you have to discuss it. As I said, there are some good columns/blogs on this site that address the issue well.

    I did not start a discussion of polygamy or polyamory. Ironically, the discussion has been continued on this thread in large part because people who don’t want to talk about it keep talking about it. It doesn’t work to tell people not to talk about the issue and then post your own ideas on it.

    At this point, I would like to just celebrate the fact that New Zealand passed same sex marriage and sang together.

    I also would be interested in columns on issues like the differences between America and New Zealand, other countries and same sex marriage laws, and issues of violence – can conservatives take a stand against anti-gay violence?

  38. mythago says:

    In general I think that if a significant number of opponents to same sex marriage are worried about an issue, you have to discuss it.

    You’re changing the subject. Whether it makes sense to discuss particular concerns about an issue (“will X lead to Y?”) is very different from insisting that X will lead to Y because “some” people who support X also think Y is a good idea.

  39. Matt N says:

    Anna Cook: “I look forward to (hopefully!?) a post by you about the New Zealand process that has created this moment.”

    Oh no! I just meant in this thread. : ) I might do something later on though, since I’ve been reading up on this. It seems like NZ had a bit of a later queer liberation movement than in the US, but that the contemporaneous Maori liberation and womens’ liberation movements cross-pollinated with it and each other in an actually wonderful way. Basically, I just want to read everything Ngahuia Te Awekotuku wrote, since she was at the epicenter of all three for at least a time.

    Diane: “We have to make progress state by state before we can get to the federal level.

    Do we now? We certainly didn’t for straight, cisgender, White, landowning men. They got voting rights, citizenship rights, property rights, and marriage rights from the start by means of federal protection. It’s true that the expansion of those rights has been territorially and factionally piecemeal throughout US history, but it’s worth noting that that’s a newer script, not the only one.

    Victor: “Which states got permanent marriage equality first? The smaller ones in the Northeast.

    Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey still haven’t started recognizing same-sex marriages though. And Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, DC, and Maryland all followed Iowa in legally recognizing those marriages. The northeast is leading the country, sure, but that doesn’t seem like an absolute fact.

    Especially considering the international situation, it seems like small populations don’t help much. In Latin America, the four most populous countries (Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina) are the four with either current federal recognition (Argentina), in the process of adopting federal recognition (Colombia), or that have a number of local jurisdictions that recognize same-sex marriages which are given full faith and credit elsewhere in the country (Mexico and Brazil). Likewise the only country in Africa to recognize same-sex marriages is the fifth most populous on that continent (South Africa) which is also the second most populous that doesn’t criminalize homosexuality (and I think the Democratic Republic of the Congo might have more pressing concerns than marriage policies, to be honest).

    It’s only in Europe that this tendency is quite as pronounced. The most populous EU member* (Germany) seems like they’ll stick with just civil unions for the time being, but the second, third, and fifth most populous are either on their way to legally recognizing (the UK and France) or already do (Spain).

    That said, there’s sort of a mess of them later on that also recognize same-sex marriages. The ninth (Portugal), eleventh (Belgium), fourteenth (Sweden), seventeenth (Denmark) most populous members of the EU do. I don’t think we can say that Norway and Iceland (the only other two states in the world that recognize same-sex marriages) are out of the EU on account of being dictatorial shut-ins like Belarus or a similar political difference, so it seems fair to mention that if they joined tomorrow, Norway would be the twentieth most populous and Iceland would be the dead last twenty-eighth most populous member of the EU.

    Of course there’s five microstates in Europe with smaller populations even than Iceland, but it seems silly to wait for the Vatican to recognize same-sex marriage. So I suppose that within parts of Europe, having a small population does sort of work in favor of getting same-sex marriage through. But that tendency doesn’t seem to be either here or there in Asia and is actively reversed in Latin America and Africa.

    (*It doesn’t seem my place to decide where to divide Europe from Asia so I used the EU as a handy distinction. I only avoided an analysis of the whole of Eurasia because it just seems silly to expect the politics of 92 countries with 4.6 billion people spread among them to be an easily compared set.)

  40. Victor says:

    Matt N,

    But that’s why I mentioned two factors – size and where the country stands on the political spectrum. Maybe I should have been more specific and said how socially liberal a country is (as opposed to saying how left they are). And in general, it’s no secret that as you move from West to East within Europe, the degree of how socially liberal a country is changes. Most countries in Africa are quite far from socially liberal. And, SA stands out in that respect somewhat. (Not to mention, it has its own unique history.) I admit I don’t know much about Latin America, but I would be surprised to find out that the country that throws a fest like Brazilian Carnival is too conservative.

    And similarly, PA and NJ are 6th and 11th states by size, respectively. You’ll say that CA and NY are 1st and 3rd, respectively, but they are also more liberal in my experience than NJ and – definitely – PA.

    Plus, I don’t think that you can have an “absolute” rule, when it comes to a complex political, economic, social and historical reality we call states. At best, a general idea of a rule.

  41. Victor says:

    In addition.

    Upon further reflection, maybe the factor I named as socially liberal is really just religiosity (though knowing Eastern Europe quite personally, it is more likely some sort of a mix of the two – vast majorities are not religious, but many tend to be quite socially conservative).

  42. Diane M says:

    @Victor – I wonder if a history of Communism is linked with being more socially conservative?

    @Matt N – One of the ways I see size as important here is that you just have to convince one legislature, one group of people. In the US, the way our system works, states vary hugely in terms of what their laws are, and their culture. So it can take longer to get to the federal level.

    For marriage in particular, our system makes laws at the state level. New Zealand may have a more federal system in general. I would guess that smaller countries are generally more likely to make changes at the federal level.

  43. Victor says:

    Diane,

    I’d have to say that what is taking place in the Eastern Europe is not so much social conservatism resulting from Communism per se as just lack of visibility of the LGBTs until the 90′s. Unlike the LGBTs in the West (who’ve been visible and started openly fighting for equality in the 60′s), no one wanted to be visible in USSR, because being homosexual meant mandatory “conversion” therapy, which usually involved shock and/or hormone therapy.

    From 1917 until 1926 homosexual relations were not a crime, from 1926 until 1960 – criminal (officially) only in cases of rape or in the context of abuse of power. Only from 1960, it became illegal in itself. And from that point on and combined with mandatory “therapy”, it turned into a weapon of state against anyone. The majority of the people charged under the prohibition not even being gay or having gay sex.

  44. Diane M says:

    @Victor – Thanks for the history, although it is depressing. I guess I would ultimately blame Communism, though. A strong, centralized state can get away with horrors like the ones you describe.

  45. Hector_St_Clare says:

    Re: though knowing Eastern Europe quite personally, it is more likely some sort of a mix of the two – vast majorities are not religious, but many tend to be quite socially conservative).

    Well, it depends. Poland is very religious, most of the rest of Eastern Europe is very irreligious (I think the Czechs are the least religious country in the world). Russia is seeing a resurgence of the Orthodox Church since the fall of the Soviet Union.

    Re: I admit I don’t know much about Latin America, but I would be surprised to find out that the country that throws a fest like Brazilian Carnival is too conservative.

    Latin America is complicated, and terms like ‘social conservative’ and ‘liberal’ are really too broad to be very useful, I think. Unmarried childbearing has been very very common in Latin America for a very long time, for example. In terms of *current* views about social issues, Latin American cultural views tends to be similar to the United States on some social issues (homosexuality, premarital sex, gay rights etc.) and more conservative on others (abortion, gender roles).

  46. Michael Worley says:

    http://sutherlandinstitute.org/news/2013/04/22/talking-about-marriage-a-new-conversation/

    How’s the new conversation working out? Seems to still talk about gay marriage a lot.

  47. Victor says:

    Hector,

    After Stalin, Russian Orthodox had no real problems worshiping. The Church was allowed to function quite well, as long as it supported the Communist ideas and let in a certain number of ideologically correct clerics to rise through the ranks. Sure, you couldn’t show up for the services quite openly if you were a member of the Communist Party (only a minority of citizens were), but regular people were not afraid to go in and participate in the services, if they wanted to do so (my father did, as did my aunt and their extended and extensive families).

    What you’re seeing today is the confluence of the interests of the Russian Orthodox Church and the governing regime – like in the Tsarist times. That’s why the clerics have so much more visibility nowadays. It’s not some sort of popular resurgence. The number of religious has not increased significantly. It is the visibility and official support that has increased.