Two men are going to take advantage of New Zealand’s liberal same-sex marriage laws tomorrow when they tie the knot, but gay rights campaigners in the Commonwealth nation have called it an “insult”, as both partners in the union are straight best friends.
Rugby-mad engineer Travis McIntosh, 23, and teacher Matt McCormick, 24, have known each other nearly twenty years. They entered a “bromance” competition run by a local NZ radio station last month hoping to win an all expenses-paid trip to the UK for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Edge FM launched the “Love You, Man” campaign back in August as part of the build-up to the competition, in which two straight best friends would be chosen to enjoy the trip, on the condition they would go as a legally married couple.
Despite the apparently innocent enjoyment afforded by the competition, local gay rights groups are “horrified” by the move, according to the New Zealand Herald. A “queer support” coordinator from Otago University criticised the union, saying it was an “insult”, and that it “trivialises what we fought for”.
The co-chairman of a local group called LegaliseLove ironically echoed the words of groups who originally opposed same-sex marriage when he said the competition “attacked the legitimacy of gay marriage”. Despite that, he took a more philosophical view on the long term implications, saying: “Maybe on the day that statistics around mental health for LGBTI (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex) people are better, when high schools are safe places for LGBTI youth, we can look back on all this and laugh”.
Edge Radio has previous form in using marriage as a pretext for its shows and promotional stunts. According to New Zealand entertainment magazine Media Works: “The Edge has built a reputation on creating outrageous weddings that create successful marriages. It started 13 years ago when they married two complete strangers, Paula Stockwell and Zane Nicholl.
“Since then they’ve married two more sets of strangers, eloped three couples to Las Vegas, married a couple without clothes in Nudie Nuptials, left the groom to do all the work in Man Made Wedding and last year celebrated same sex marriage by marrying two gay couples”.
Fortunately for the couple, under New Zealand law couples no longer have to physically consummate marriage for it to be legal, so they can remain happily friends-without-benefits despite their new legal status.