New marriage form: No more ‘brides’, ‘grooms’

NZ Herald 13 April 2013
The words “bride” and “bridegroom” will disappear from official marriage forms if Parliament votes, as expected, on Wednesday to legalise same-sex marriages. A departmental briefing paper to the select committee that considered the bill said marriage forms would have to be changed if it passed. “This includes, for example, changing the headings on the notice-of-intended-marriage form to allow for parties of the same sex (i.e. removing headings of bride and bridegroom),” the paper said. The bill would also replace the words “husband” and “wife” in 14 other acts with gender-neutral terms including “spouse”, “married couple” and “any two people (of any sex) who are married”. Internal Affairs spokesman Michael Mead said the department was waiting “for the outcome of the legislative process” before deciding on revised wording for the forms. Canada’s marriage application form uses the terms “applicant” and “joint applicant”. California proposed the terms “Party A” and “Party B” when its state Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage in 2008, but the court’s decision was overturned by a referendum a few months later. Mr Mead said the department would also have to change its computer systems to record the sex of the parties to a marriage, change its brochures and websites about marriage, and train registry office staff.

Family First director Bob McCoskrie said more than 15,000 people had signed a web-based pledge to vote against any electorate MP who supports the bill, and against any party whose leader supports it. All party leaders except NZ First leader Winston Peters supported the bill at its second reading last month….The New Zealand bill, sponsored by Labour MP Louisa Wall, passed its second reading on March 13 by 77-44 and Mr McCoskrie conceded that he faced “an uphill battle” to get 17 MPs to change their minds and stop it. A Herald-DigiPoll survey published on March 26 found a dramatic shift in public opinion on the bill. Support dropped from 59 per cent in January to 49.6 per cent, and opposition rose from 38 to 48 per cent. “We always hold out hope,” Mr McCoskrie said. “I think we have turned the public debate, but the political debate is far harder because they just don’t want to listen.”
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