I of course, strongly support the amending of this bill. My names Thomas Coppell and I was born to a mother and father, on the 22nd of September 1992. My Mum already had another child from a previous relationship, Richard. My biological father, was 21 at the time, far from ready to have a child and left before I could even remember. My Mum raised my older brother and I solo for a time, she rocked it.
But something else happened before I could remember, my Mum met and married my Dad, Stephen when I was just 18 months old. Dad chose to adopt both me and my older brother after the wedding, and 18 years later our family unit has since added two more siblings to the mix, Jarrod and Victoria.
From the outside, our family unit looks like the perfect nuclear family. We all have blue eyes and brown hair, I look like my Dad even though he may not be biologically related to me. He's been a fantastic father to me, and my Mum has done great too. We're proof that the traditional family unit, is a myth and in fact, not necessary to live a fulfilling, happy life. I'm loved, we all love each other, and that's what makes my family a family.
When I was about 7 years old I remember playing medieval war with my best friend, he was always the knight and I was always the princess, and we'd get married when he defeated the dragon and saved me! In fact, I always played the female role in games - I was Batgirl when we played Batman, Misty when we played Pokemon, or Coco when we played Crash Bandicoot. I remember Mum asking me why I was always the girl in games, I really struggled with the answer. I didn't know, all I knew is that I wanted to marry Batman, and who could blame me? Batman is pretty choice. Society had taught me though to marry Batman, I'd have to be a girl, and so I must be. There was no other option for me because only boys and girls got married - not boys and boys.
As I grew older I learnt some new things. I learnt from Shortland Street (god help us) what gay was and that there were people like me who were boys who loved boys. I came out at 13 without much of a fuss, it was pretty obvious to just about everyone with a set of ears, and I got involved with my local queer youth group, Schools Out, where I started meeting more and more people like me! It was exciting, and egos aside, I was a hit with the other boys.
I started dating and all the while my assumption was that I would be marrying every partner I had. In fact at 16, that's what I was looking for, a husband. And I found a few potentials and lost a few along the way. However I started to notice something, something which bothered me.
I noticed that Jay and Maia on Shortland Street weren't married. Their union looked the same. They loved each other just as much (or as much as you can in soap land). They even had the wedding and everything, but something was off. They weren't married, they were civil unioned or "CUPed," as I've heard most recently it referred to. Here is where my problem lies, a relationship, loving and beautiful, no different to that of my Mum and my Dad was different because the law said so. Same sex couples could not be married. Jay and Maia could not be married. I could not marry Batman. And this wasn't the case because of a serious reason, no no, it couldn't be because a document 2000+ years old said that homosexual sex was a sin. In a supposed secular state, what the fuck?
My revelation is not dissimilar to the rest of my friends and the young people I now support, 6 years later, as a facilitator of Schools Out. As a friend to queer people, as a lover of men, I assumed from such a young age that marriage is what was for me - like everyone else. Society told me so. So why not? Why not me and another person of the same sex? Why not my friends, my whanau, my youth? There is no logical, spiritual, economic or health reason why not in this day and age - the only reason why not is in preservation of ignorant laws which are long over due a rehash to reflect our diversity and our slow rejection of our patriarchal repressive roots. We are in 2012 and in 2012 my love is assumed equal.
I could spend hours preaching about youth suicide statistics, civil rights and discrimination but I have chosen not to. You know the facts. To me this is a no brainier, and most young people think the same. If you do not put this bill through, my generation will. You have the opportunity to save us the trouble. We all have to fight for love, some of us just have to fight harder.
So in closing, one day I'll marry a man. We'll live in lovely neighbourhood with a clan of children who will be surrounded by friends and whanau. They will be loved. And I would love for the place where that happens to be the same place where, on the 22nd of September, 1992, Emma Eckhoff, soon to be Emma Coppell gave birth to baby Thomas. I love my country, let's make it an equal country.