The results were a disappointing 42% in favour and 58% against. However, that was an informal poll weighted towards those who don't immediately switch channels after watching the news and who cared enough to text in. There may have been some voting no because of how TV3 used 'same sex marriage' rather than 'marriage equality'. Other polls, including a formal one, have 63% in favour, 6% undecided and 31% opposed, with the undecideds flopping one way or another if only two options are given. The TV3 interview polling also had similar numbers, although they only interviewed like sixty people.
But it was really disheartening to see those numbers. I returned to some thoughts I had previously – that for all that New Zealand loves to project this warm and welcoming, clean, green and liberal image, there are still some nasty pockets of xenophobia, sexism, classism and other types bigotry lurking in our society. It was nice to see that most of the under-30s interviewed were all 'why not?' but quite a few of the older people interviewed were "I don't like that sort of thing, it doesn't belong here" in that supercilious tone that grates on my nerves.
I also wonder if the thing that discomforts people about marriage equality, is that the 'traditional' marriage has a man owning a woman (for... most of history actually) and having power over her, and what brings them to say that 'marriage should be between a man and a woman' is that the thought of a man owning another man is bizarre and why would one man submit to another? A woman having ownership and power over another woman is just as bizarre a thought and both of these situations are as inconceivable as the idea that maybe, perhaps, both parties in a marriage should have equal power and that marriage is a mutual agreement.
I'm just rambling now, but it honestly scares that this thought process might actually be valid for some people, tucked away deep in their minds, not even conscious of how they've reached the conclusion that marriage equality is a bad thing. I have no words as to how incredibly sad that the issue may just revolve around deep-set misogyny and sexism and not religion. I can respect religion, I think people who have unshakeable faith in their chosen belief are pretty cool and that people who fight with their beliefs, e.g. Picasso, are some of the most amazing people, but it isn't churches and religious institutions who are arguing whether or not marriage equality should be a thing.
It's government. It's a law that sets out how a contract between two people exclusively (for the moment) is to be constructed and what lawful and monetary benefits and privileges are obtained as a result of that contract and partnership. It's not asking for a god's blessing over a union, it's a legal binding of two otherwise unrelated people (well, first cousins maybe, depending on local laws and no one really keeps track of second cousins let alone third cousins) done primarily out of love. If it had a different name and you could get a similar contract with your flatmate or best friend, nearly no one would complain.
Marriage used to be a mechanism to ensure that a man had a child who was his that he could pass on his land to. It's not like that any more. We have wills and other complex legal documents that mean that blood and birthright isn't how property is divided any more. Some people don't even want to pass on property. Marriage, in the 'traditional' sense between a man and a woman, is socio-legally outdated.
And yes, I do hope that with marriage equality for homosexual couples there's move toward the concept of marriage beginning to step away from the sexual/romantic concept it currently is to something much more pragmatic that allows for best friends to be labelled as next of kin or long term house mates to manage their house and finances more easily or perhaps plural marriages. But marriage equality for all gender combinations is a good start.