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Civil union pioneers have no regrets

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    Civil union pioneers have no regrets - 29-Dec-2005
    A Christchurch couple who spurned conventional marriage last April to become pioneers of the new Civil Union law say they have no regrets.

    Eight months after becoming the first male-female couple joined in a civil union in New Zealand, Mike and Tracy Peters have had "absolutely no second thoughts".

    Everything has worked out well, even if the only patter of little feet in their house comes from their three kittens.

    They had committed themselves to each other at a "not-a-wedding" party in 1998, attended by friends and family.

    They had been living together since then, waiting for the new legislation to be passed in Parliament.

    They supported the new law, as it gave people freedom of choice.

    "We believe in personal choice, rather than society dictating how we must live our lives," Mike Peters says.

    They opted for a civil union because it gave them the same level of legal protection as a married couple.

    As both of them had medical problems, this was important.

    They were happy as a de facto couple, but felt concerned that if one landed in hospital the other would have no rights to handle their affairs.

    They supported the new law because they felt that church and state should be separated.

    Tracy Peters says they are both atheists and oppose the church having a role in people's lives, unless people want it to.

    "A lot of people do not feel comfortable with religious ceremonies. Religion is a very personal thing. So is a civil union - the most personal decision you make in your life. Deciding to share your life with someone is incredibly important. It's a huge step. No one else should be involved in it," Ms Peters says.

    Mr Peters says they oppose marriage on principle because it discriminates against homosexual couples.

    "With civil unions, gay people can use the same law. It is a good law and it was about time it was changed. It is good to see the change in society that the law reflects."

    Their civil union involved none of the "rigmarole" of marriage, which they had wanted to avoid.

    They simply picked up the papers at the Internal Affairs Department and filled them in.

    The only fuss came afterwards, as media representatives were waiting outside to photograph the first civil union couple.
    Ref: - NZ Herald

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