So. I have some news.

So. Here’s the thing. I have been going through A Time recently. I think I’m ready to tell you about it now. I wasn’t going to. But then … this website has been part of my life for so long.

Pretty pretty peonies

At the heart of things, I’ve been struggling with this for years. Unfortunately it’s only in the past few months where everything has up and fallen in line, leaving me standing here with my realisation and a big fat “oh.” on my face.

I’m gay. Like… quite gay.

Yea, I know. Believe me, I know. I know. It was a surprise to me too.

I’ve never ever been straight, I knew that, everyone knew that, but I’ve also had Craig since I was 16 so I guess I just never actually got to see which way my heart was headed. He was my best friend, he still is my best friend, and for 13 years that was … almost enough.

Earlier this year I was going through a ‘bad brain’ time and all of a sudden thought “well, maybe I’m gay” and then everything over the past two, maybe three years fell into line and I saw exactly the path that lead me here.

I would give pretty much anything to have realised this at 18, or 22, or 28. But also not. I don’t regret the time I’ve had with Craig. Not even a little bit. I loved him, I still do love him. He has been, and will remain, one of the most important parts of my life. He is one of the absolute best people I know.

But yes, Craig and I are separating.

When I told Craig he held my hand while I talked and held my head when I cried and was the most supportive person you can imagine.

It’s been the strangest few weeks. First there was talking with my counsellor, then there was telling Craig, then our families, our friends. And then after that comes the internet.

My mother’s immediate & panicky response to hearing that I have news was “What‽ I’m not prepared for news!”

But, you know, not one single person, upon hearing ‘the news’, has been anything other than amazing and supportive. To me and to Craig. We have an astounding group of people in my life and I am entirely thankful for all of them.

Craig and I are not rushing anything. He is still one of the most important people in my life and I hate that any of this has hurt him. We are moving forward together as friends and I am always trying to be mindful of and kind to him. And vice versa.

I used to think I was just a deeply unhappy person. It turns out that I was just doing a pretty good job of lying to myself. Being true to who I am has been such a weight off my shoulders.

I’m not lying to myself anymore.



History was made, 77 to 44

77:44 Marriage Equality

77:44 Marriage Equality

77:44 Marriage Equality

Last night the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill passed in the House.

Life has been absolutely exhausting recently and I can barely string the words together to explicate how much the passing of this Bill means to me. A lot of what has been exhausting me has been working towards the passing of this Bill.
I’m so proud. And exhausted. And grateful.

“Finally, a message to all LGBTI—and I finally got that out. My message to you all is welcome to the mainstream. Do well. Kia ora.” Tau Henare

Coming Out//80 to 40//Almost Equal is Almost Bullshit//Recommends by a Majority that it be Passed

“and recommends by majority that it be passed”

OH it's wonderful being short

Yesterday I tweeted

Today I tweeted

Then I sat there, at my desk, and teared up a little as I read the Select Committee report. If you want to read the full text, and I recommend you do, you can do so here. My favourite excepts are below.

“The Government Administration Committee has examined the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill and recommends by majority that it be passed with the amendments shown.”

“The majority of us consider that marriage is a human right, and that it is unacceptable for the state to deny this right to same-sex couples.”

“The Marriage Act enables people to become legally married; it does not ascribe moral or religious values to marriage.”

“We note that if the bill were to pass it would enable international recognition of relationship status for married same-sex couples.”

“The bill as consequentially amended would enable any transgender people to continue to be married regardless of their gender identity.”

“We note that currently under the law a homosexual or transgender person may legally adopt a child, but same-sex couples may not. Such a position seems absurd.”

“The passion with which submitters made their arguments to us was palpable. We commend all those people who took the time to make a submission.”

“We were impressed by the participation of young people in this debate. We received heartfelt submissions from youth on both sides of the debate. We are heartened that so many of the younger generation, which is so often maligned as uninterested in politics and marriage, chose to involve themselves in this debate.”

I had been having one of those days where I felt insignificant. Now, and you can read most of my submission here, I really really don’t.

The amendments recommended by the Select Committee are to Section 29 and Section 56, and also delays the commencement of the bill.

Section 29.
Section 29 of the Act states: “A marriage licence shall authorize but not oblige any marriage celebrant to solemnise the marriage to which it relates.” The proposed amendment is the addition of a subsection 5A which clarifies this.
Or to be specific
In section 29, insert as subsection (2): “(2) Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), no celebrant who is a minister of religion recognised by a religious body enumerated in Schedule 1, and no celebrant who is a person nominated to solemnize marriages by an approved organisation, is obliged to solemnize a marriage if solemnizing that marriage would contravene the religious beliefs of the religious body or the religious beliefs or philosophical or humanitarian convictions of the approved organisation.”

Section 56
Section 56 states that it is an offence to impugn or deny the validity of a lawful marriage. The Select Committee has recommended that this section be repealed as “We consider that section 56 is not compatible with the rights and freedoms set out in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the Human Rights Act 1993.”
As part of the anti-marriage equality debates there was an article circulated in which the author refers to the “fact” that debate regarding the morality or legitimacy of same sex relations was to be made illegal. It was, of course, is completely untrue. The author used Section 56 of the Act, which already existed in New Zealand law, to back up his assertion.
The Committee also noted ” By recommending the repeal of section 56 in the context of this bill, it is not our intention to suggest that it is appropriate to denigrate any kind of marriage.” which is excellent.

There’s a four month delay in Department of Internal Affairs to prepare for its implementation.

Almost equal is almost bullshit: almost all of my submission

Amazing signs

So here’s the thing. My actual submission was more than 1600 words long. I don’t think you want to read all of that. Most of it, however, is below.

To the Government Administration Committee,

My name is Sarah-Rose Burke, I am 28 years old and I have been happily married to my husband for six years. I am also bisexual.

This submission is in support of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill.

It is by luck or by chance that the person I love is a man. That my relationship could be so wholly different under the law based on the gender of the person to whom I am attracted is something which I find baffling.

My sexuality is as much a choice as my height. At 5’1”, I have often been asked, “Isn’t it strange being so short?” I have no way to answer that. I have never been anything other than short.
Being short is like being regular height, only people laugh when you can’t reach things. Being bisexual or homosexual is like being heterosexual, only you don’t have the same basic rights under the law as heterosexuals. That is no laughing matter.

However it is not my bisexuality that validates my support of marriage equality. My being a rational human being does that.
My heterosexual husband and I both support marriage equality.

For the past 8 years in New Zealand the Civil Union Act 2004 has allowed same-sex couples to legally recognise their unions. Unions which have the same qualities as marriage but are intrinsically not marriage. Our legal system allows same-sex couples to get ever so close to marriage equality yet still denies it. The Civil Union Act was fine, as a first step. After eight years the next step is overdue.

I have heard the argument that allowing same-sex marriage will allow for polygamy, or for people to marry their pets. That it is a slippery slope. The same arguments were made 120 years ago in New Zealand: that if the government allowed women to vote, soon children would be voting, or cats would be allowed a vote. This has not happened. The slope is not that slippery.

I have heard arguments that this bill should not be passed because “a mum and a mum is different to a mum and a dad.” While the semantics of this statement may be true, the overwhelming evidence has shown, and continues to show, that it is family processes (such as the quality of parenting, the psychosocial well-being of parents, the quality of and satisfaction with relationships within the family, and the level of co-operation and harmony between parents) that contribute most to the wellbeing of children.

Marriage is, under New Zealand law, not couched in terms relating to procreation. If this were the case sterile men and women would not be able to marry. Couples, who discover after marriage that they are infertile, should be compelled to divorce. My husband and I have been married for 6 years without producing a child – at what point does our marriage become invalidated? What if we choose to never have children?
Marriage is not about procreation. Marriage is about commitment.

In New Zealand there are only around 100 adoptions per year. Given that a single homosexual person can already adopt a child; there is no evidence to suspect a greater uptake in adoption applications from homosexual couples.

What has been shown is that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths have a far greater risk of suicide and self-harming behaviours. These behaviours, including unsafe sexual behaviour, are very strongly associated with low self-esteem and feelings of isolation and marginalisation. These in turn are closely linked to prejudice and discrimination.

Recent reports show that 1 in 5 LGBT youths in New Zealand have harmed themselves and around half have attempted suicide. In a country with already astoundingly high rates of suicide, the fact that LGBT youths have a suicide rate 8 times that of their peers is shameful. It is something that needs to be urgently addressed; New Zealand is failing LGBT youths and this must be recognised.

The marginalisation you experience when you are different to your friends is not always overt. I don’t remember exactly when I got the message that I was to hide that side of myself. Simply by not being recognised as equal the message sent to young people who aren’t heterosexual is “you are different. You are wrong. You are not like the rest of us.” It’s a lonely, painful place to be.

The law recognises couples in same-sex relationships as “other.” There is a law for the general population and a law for the gay population. I feel like my marriage is weakened by the fact that those I love who are in same-sex relationships cannot share in this institution. Marriage will be made stronger by making it free.

We live in a more liberal time. Polls consistently show that most people under the age of 35 support marriage equality.
The time to make this law has come.

Thank you.

Coming Out for Marriage Equality

So here’s the thing. I avoid talking about politics.
Partly because of where I work, partly because I don’t care how other people vote, partly because I’ve voted differently in every single election for which I’ve been eligible. This is not about politics in general or individual parties or an election.
This is about one bill. This is about standing up.

Today the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill was drawn from the ballot. It will, eventually, be debated in the House.
To quote from the Bill itself “This Bill will make it clear that a marriage is a union of 2 people regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. It will ensure that all people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity will have the opportunity to marry if they so choose.”

I support marriage equality. I am married. I am also bisexual*.

For the past 8 years New Zealand has had the Civil Union Act which has allowed same sex couples to legally recognise their unions. That the State will allow them to get ever-so close to marriage equality and still deny it. To say ‘yes, of course you’re equal … almost’. To say ‘we support your right to everything but’.
That was fine. As a first step. After eight years the next step is overdue.

I’m not coming out because I feel like that validates my support of marriage equality. I think my being a rational human being does that. I’m coming out because, maybe, you didn’t know. Because maybe you assumed that a sexuality slightly off normal would be visible in some way. Because I’m happy to stand up and be counted.
My husband and I support marriage equality.

And, damn it, if everything falls apart with Craig, and the next person I fall for is a woman? I would hate that I couldn’t marry her too.

Palazzo Vecchio2

* always have been, probably always will be, it’s not a big deal.