New Zealand Now Has Gay Marriage

15th Country to Allow Same-sex Marriage

On Monday, August 19, 2013, New Zealand became the thirteenth country to welcome same-sex marriage.  Some newlyweds, estimated at three dozen, took advantage of the new law such as  Rachel Briscoe and Jess Ivess as well as Richard Rawstorm and Richard Andrew in Rotorua, New Zealand.  As promised, the Modern Family star was present at the marriage of Lynley Bendall and Ally Wanikau for the first gay wedding in New Zealand..

Married at 39,000 Feet

Activist Ferguson, with his new husband laywerJustin Mikita, who were married in New York City last month, attended the wedding aboard Air New Zealand,  “What an unforgettable way to mark the new law and “a great celebration of New Zealand’s diversity!” exclaimed Chief People Officer Lorraine Murphy. The flight went from Queenstown to Auckland and carried family, friends, and their three foster children. of Bendall and Wanikau. Together for thirteen years, the couple, both childcare workers, were married by celebrant Kim Jewell Elliott. Following the ceremony, an unexpected choir performed the traditonal “Pokarekare Ana,” a love song that was sung last April when the New Zealand Parliament marriage equality law was passed. Commented the airborne couple, “to be married at 30,000 feet beneath strings of fairy lights with our children, friends and family as witnesses makes an already memorable day that much more special. It was surreal to have Jesse play a part in the ceremony too – we’re big fans of “Modern Family.”

Reasoning Behind Marriage En Flight

Bendall and Wanikau won a promotion by national carrier Air New Zealand.  In the winning video of the competition, their foster children held handwritten signs saying why their parents should get married on a plane.  One read “Wow!! Imagine that for news at school!”

Why Ferguson and Mikita Were Attendees

Although not bosom buddies with the lesbian couple, Ferguson, who advocates for marriage equality through his appearances and tietheknot. organization that raises money for same-sex marriage, “was present to bring some attention to this great day.” Ferguson said that with gay marriage not legally recognized in thirty-seven U.S. states,” there is plenty of work to do there to change attitudes. “Modern Family,” which normalizes homosexuality,” is a great way to sneak into a lot of living rooms with no agenda.”

Nearby Australia does not have legalized same-sex marriage, but a measure to do is expected soon.  The U.S. Ambassador to Australia, John Berry, recently married to Curtis Yee, is openly gay.



Modern Family Star Becomes Modern Family

Jesse Tyler Ferguson Marries Justin Mikita

Modern Family’s Emmy-nominated Jesse Tyler Ferguson who plays uptight lawyer Mitchell Pritchett, in real life, married a lawyer and long-time beau Justin Mikita on Saturday, July 20 in downtown Manhattan.

Details of the Wedding Verified by Ferguson’s Rep

Their wedding was officiated by Tony Award-winning playwright Tony Kushner of Angels of America and Lincoln fame. The ceremony took place downtown at 82 Mercer and was attended by over 200 guests, including the cast of Modern Family, Zachary Quinto and celebrities in the fashion world such as Isaac Mizrahi. The after-party was held at the Crosby St. Hotel.  The rehearsal dinner was at Harding’s Restaurant. All wedding festivities took place in New York.

Why? As guests on The View one day after Proposition 8 in California was declared unconstitutional last June, in the state in which they live, Ferguson and Mikita told their hosts that they planned to marry in New York where gay marriage is legal and where they were treated as equals.

 The Couple Ties A Double Knot 

Ferguson, 37, and Mikita, 27, have been dating for two years.  Red-headed Ferguson and swarthy Mikita became engaged last September in Mexico.  The couple on You Tube announced that they had formed a foundation called Tie the that benefits marriage equality.  It’s a site selling a stylish collection of unique bowties with the profits going to organizations that fight for marriage equality. Wedding guests were asked to donate to the organization rather than sending traditional wedding gifts.

Next month, Montana-born gay rights activist Ferguson, on the day that New Zealand’s gay marriage law becomes official will host a wedding aboard an Air New Zealand flight.

The Bluebird of Happiness Tweets

The day after he married, Ferguson tweeted that he “never been happier.” Two days after he married, he tweeted again “Top of the world. Top of the Cake.”


Will Illinois Be Next To Legalize Gay Marriage?

Illinois State’s Senate Defeated Bid For Gay Marriage

The Illinois Marriage Equality Bill was narrowly defeated, 28 to 24 votes, from getting the first legislative hearing on January 2, 2013.  The vote was on waiving a six-day waiting period set out in Senate rules to have the measure heard in committee. Senate Republicans blocked an effort to allow the measure to be considered by a committee, but some supporters were absent.

Minor Procedural Setback

The bill’s chief Senator sponsor, Democrat Heather Steans, points out that an alternative parliamentary way around the six-day waiting period is to have the legislation be heard in the Senate Executive Committee.  It is possible that the hearing could happen within the next week, during the “lame-duck” session of the state legislature, which ends on January 8. Will the gay marriage bill be pushed through the full Senate?

Supporters Not Worried, But Not “Resting on Laurels,” Either

The bill, pending in Springfield, Illinois, has prominent Democrats, including Governor Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as well as President Obama supporting it. Last week, at least 260 Illinois Jewish and Protestant leaders published a letter supporting same-sex marriage although the bill does allow religious groups to opt out of performing gay marriages if they so wish.  Twelve African-American leaders on January 2nd, released an open letter in support of the measure.

Catholic and Muslim Opposition in Fifth’s Largest State

However, not all religious figures were supportive. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago calls same-sex marriage “ a violation of natural law” and urges the measure’s defeat.  Like other bishops, he describes gay marriage as a “legal fiction” and says that gays should remain celibate and not aim to “destroy natural law by attempting to legislate such artificial constructs.” Although the legislation would not require religious organizations to recognize or consecrate gay marriage, some 1,700 state religious leaders derided that claim in letters addressed to Illinois lawmakers.

Key Republicans Back Marriage Equality Bill

Pat Brady, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, and Ken Mehlman, a gay former Republican National Committee Chairman from 2005 to 2007, on January 2nd, urged the Illinois General Assembly to pass the Religious Freedom and MarriageFairness Act. Says Mehlman, campaign manager for President George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004, “allowing civil marriage for same-sex couples will cultivate community stability, encourage fidelity and commitment, and foster strong family values.” See “Illinois Republican leadership backs marriage equality bill,” LGBTQ Nation, 1/2/2013.

Gay TV Star Adds Heft to Campaign

To give more weight to this gay rights bill, Emmy-winning actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, along with his fiance Justin Mikita, and Governor Sheila Simon, announced his support on January 2.

Ferguson, who is half of the gay couple portrayed in the popular comedy Modern Family, commented “I’m looking forward to raising a family with Justin and having our kids grow up in an equal America.”

What the Marriage Equality Marriage Bill Means For Illinois

Since June 2011, Illinois has one of the most liberal civil unions law in effect.  Last year, a survey of Illinois voters by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found that 47 % would allow gay marriage, 42% were opposed, and 11 percent not sure.

If the bill passes, Illinois, with a population of 30 million people, would become the tenth state to allow same-sex marriage.  The new legislature, sworn in, on January 9th, has a supermajority of Democratic members who would most likely favor the legislation.

With the recent passage of gay marriage in Washington, Maryland and Maine, and marriage efforts gaining ground in Rhode Island, Minnesota, Delaware and Hawaii, perhaps the Supreme Court will be apt to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act?