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By popular demand: Bill Logan’s speech

Tue 4 Sep 2012 In: Hall of Fame View at Wayback View at NDHA

Tireless gay rights campaigner Bill Logan was among those who stood atop Parliament’s steps and spoke to the many who marched for equality ahead of the first reading of the marriage equality bill. It was among the MANY highlights of the day, and we share it here. Bill Logan speaking at a rally on Parliament's steps ahead of the marriage equality reading Today is a celebration. Thirty years ago we could not have contemplated the idea of marriage for gay men and lesbians. So today is a celebration of the readiness of society for the modest reform this bill represents. You presumably put me on the speakers list to recognise the generations of activists who have worked against the oppression of sexual minorities–the huge number of people who have in their different ways helped prepare the way for this bill. Especially today we should take the opportunity to think of the all the people who are not from the sexual minorities, but who have stood by us on this long journey, and who will stand by us in the months ahead, and on the journeys beyond. We think of the vast numbers of people of good will, people who believe in equality and fairness and democracy—people from all walks of life. We would not be here without them. Most of all perhaps we should think of the families of gay-lesbian-bisexual-trans people over the years. Some of our families had difficulties accepting us, but the vast majority eventually did accept us and have cared for us and encouraged us and supported us through the difficult times. I think of my mother. She came from a rather conservative background, but like all mothers she wanted to be proud of her children, and she wanted them to be happy and successful. So when I came out to her at the beginning of the 1980s my gayness was a bit of a challenge for her. It was a bit more difficult to be proud of a gay son, or to hope for them to achieve happiness or success. But Mum was always there, in so many ways, for me and for my friends. She was there through the political campaigns and she was there looking after people. All over New Zealand there are thousands and thousands and thousands of people like my Mum. We should think of them today, and so should the politicians. My Mum is an old, old lady now, in a home in Titahi Bay. Next month she will be 90 years old. She’s frail, and she’s not really very verbal any more. She’s got family photos and mementoes on her walls, including photographs of my partner, Rangimoana. And when he comes with me to see her she sometimes likes to introduce him to her friends in the home as her son-in-law. If I think who in my own life will be most affected by this legislation it is not me and Rangimoana. We might upgrade our civil union to a marriage or we might not, but our relationship is pretty settled. But this bill is important for my Mum. I don’t think she minds whether we get married or not, but she resents it that we cannot. She resents it that the institution which was so important in her own life is not legally accessible to her son. And it is difficult for my Mum to see why I should not have the right to marry my partner. It will hurt nobody. It takes nothing away from anyone. It forces nobody to do anything. This is a modest measure. It won’t solve all problems. It will merely remove a restriction and an inequity, and it will give out a signal that it is OK to be in a sexual minority. The removal of a restriction and an inequity against sexual minorities in the marriage law helps reduce prejudice us wherever it occurs—in schools and workplaces and throughout society. And the signal that it’s OK to be in a sexual minority is important not just for members of sexual minorities, it is important for everyone. Louisa Wall’s bill is not just about gay men and lesbians, it is about our mothers and fathers, and our wider families and our friends, it’s about all the people who care for us and want to see us treated with fairness and dignity. If we think of the one thing that makes this situation today different from the situation we faced when we started on the homosexual law reform campaign in 1985, it is that there has been a massive coming out. In 1985 for most people homosexuality was a hidden secret. There were just as many gay people as there are today, but few members of their families knew of it, few of their workmates knew of it, few of their friends knew of it. But now in almost every family there is a sister or a cousin who is known to be gay or lesbian. Almost everyone has a workmate or a friend from a sexual minority. We’re not a secret any more. And so today the move to laws giving us greater equality are supported by a much larger pool of people than in 1985—our workmates, our friends, our families. And, you know, whatever you think about politicians, most of them know how to count. It is because the pool of our supporting workmates and friends and family has grown so big, that politicians increasingly support giving us greater equality, too So–we’re about to take another step forward. Thank you all for coming here today. We are optimistic about this. Thank you all for coming to be part of this modest step forward. Savour the moment.     Bill Logan - 4th September 2012

Credit: Bill Logan

First published: Tuesday, 4th September 2012 - 4:12pm

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