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'Gay grandads' John and Des marry

Sun 3 May 2015 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Des Smith and John Jolliff ready to say "we do" The honorary grandfathers of the New Zealand gay community, Des Smith and John Jolliff, have celebrated the tenth anniversary of the passing of the Civil Union legislation by becoming legally married. During the campaign for legal recognition of same-sex relationships on the same basis as heterosexual relationships, much debate culminated in a strategic decision not to initially aim for full marriage - due to feelings that middle-New Zealand and the politicians who represent them might not have been ready for two men or two women getting formally married. Instead, Civil Union legislation was achieved, in 2005. "We have always felt that Civil Unions was a compromise concept," Jolliff says. "But it was the best on offer at the time." The pair were one of the first New Zealand gay couples to be Civil Unioned. In mid-2013 marriage equality was finally achieved. Their wedding, on Friday night, was an intimate and private affair with just over 50 guests gathering at the Zealandia ecological sanctuary in Wellington. "We chose Zealandia because Des is a guide there, it's just the right size, the catering is fabulous and Zealandia is a big part of our lives," Jolliff says. "Amanduh la Whore was our hostess and she was wonderful." The couple proceeded up the Zelandia staircase through an archway of rainbow flags and their grandchildren released coloured balloons from above. They were then greeted by the Tiwhanawhana takataapui kapa haka group. The celebrant was Karl Pulotu-Endemann and Smith and Jolliff gave a nod to tradition by both carrying floral bouquets. Amongst the official witnesses to their marriage were two of their grandchildren. After the formal ceremony those gathered were entertained during dinner by performances by la Whore. "She was wonderful," Jolliff laughs. A honeymoon in Paris, "gay Paree," is planned and Jolliff says he is looking forward to filling in travel forms declaring their married status. As for whether they feel any different now they are married, Jolliff chuckles. "We were talking about that just this morning over breakfast. Yes, it was an important step for us and we do feel legally and socially equal, but other than that it's not a major difference in our day to day lives."    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Sunday, 3rd May 2015 - 11:24am

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