Celebrant says I do not’ for same-sex marriages

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Queenstown marriage celebrants have surprisingly mixed views about presiding over the proposed nuptials of same-sex couples. 

One celebrant has dropped his hostile stance of the 1990s towards gay relationships while another says he isn’t anti-gay – he just doesn’t want to marry them. 

Two other celebrants already doing civil unions say they’ll happily marry same-sex couples. 

A bill before Parliament gives celebrants the right to refuse to marry same-sex couples – and celebrant Peter Doyle will exercise that right. 

Doyle says he’s not anti-gay but simply prefers traditional male-female weddings – “That’s what I like doing and that’s what I’ll continue to do.” 

Celebrants must apply separately to perform civil unions, Doyle says, and he decided not to. 

Fellow celebrants Kathryn Omond and Phillipa Cook are already licensed for civil unions and say same-sex marriages will make no difference to them. 

“I’ll be delighted if the bill becomes law,” Omond says. 

Queenstown’s newest celebrant, Chris Blackford, says he’ll also be delighted to marry same-sex couples – but he wasn’t always pro-gay. 

The veteran policeman and former local councillor made national headlines in 1999 by panning a proposed gay ski event in Queenstown. 

“There are a lot of people in Queenstown that still have traditional values, and many don’t want to see that sort of behaviour promoted here,” Blackford said at the time. 

Queenstown didn’t need homosexual events and its image could be harmed by such promotion, he was quoted as saying. 

Fourteen years later, and a celebrant since last December, Blackford has recanted: “I’m quite prepared to marry gay couples.” 

Heterosexual parental violence towards children triggered his change of stance, he says. 

“Just because it’s a man and woman in a relationship, as has been proven time and time again, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be good for children. 

“With the amount of kiddies killed by heterosexual couples, we’ve yet to see a kiddie killed by a gay couple,” Blackford says. 

“This abuse of children by heterosexual couples has gotten out of hand,” Blackford adds, “and it’s no endorsement of the old values which have proven not to be as robust as we all thought.”