Friday, April 29, 2005

"And that's it, really"

Just saw the civil union ceremonies on Campbell Live. A gay and a straight couple getting hitched on TV, and the world still hasn't ended. I'm beginning to think that those doom-sayers from Destiny NZ were full of shit...

I was however unimpressed with their celebrant's claims of the differences between marriage and civil union ceremonies. Contrary to his claims, rings, vows, and a verbal declaration from the celebrant are not legally part of the process. All that is required is for the parties to say "I AB, take you CD, to be my legal [wife or husband]" or words to that effect (see s 31 (3) of the Marriage Act 1955). The Civil Union Act effectively demands the same thing by requiring that each party, in the presence of a celebrant and two witnesses, names both parties and "acknowledges that they are freely joining in a civil union with each other". "I AB, take you CD, to be my civil union partner" fits that bill perfectly.

But legal niceties aside, the celebrant does have a point. The arrival of civil unions allows us to dispense with the old traditions governing marriage (like rings, and long vows, and "I do" and whatever) and create new ones of our own devising, keeping the best of the old (like pretty clothes and a party) while ditching the crap. We were already seeing this with younger people anyway, and civil unions will probably accelerate the process.