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Civil unions slow on radar

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    Civil unions slow on radar - 16-Feb-2008
    The civil union option is not being taken up by South Canterbury's gay and lesbian couples.

    There have been a few couples enter civil unions, but the ceremonies are being held elsewhere.

    A handfull of civil unions have been registered in Timaru since the law change of April 2005.

    However, South Canterbury celebrants haven't conducted the events.

    Neither the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages nor Statistics New Zealand could not provide the South Canterbury civil union figures, but the Timaru registry said the numbers were few.

    Of five celebrants contacted none had conducted a civil union service.

    Waimate celebrant Billie Parker felt privileged to be conducting her first ceremony for a gay couple soon.

    Mount Cook-based celebrant Denis Callesen conducts a dozen marriages a year, but since the recognition of civil unions is yet to conduct one.

    Timaru celebrant Rosie Staite said while her marriages were up, she was yet to conduct a civil union. She had been approached once but it clashed with a booking. She believed same-sex couples may choose to have a civil union ceremony elsewhere rather than draw attention to themselves.

    Timaru celebrant Wendy Shaw had conducted two civil union ceremonies for Christchurch couples, but none in South Canterbury.

    She hadn't heard of any civil unions being conducted in the province.

    The option of a civil union for heterosexual couples, not wanting to marry, but wishing to formalise a relationship has not taken on in South Canterbury either. Ms Shaw said people, especially younger couples wanted the full marriage event.

    Ms Parker wasn't surprised that South Canterbury gay and lesbian couples valued their privacy.

    The law had changed before people's attitudes. She believed it would be some years yet before people's horizons were broadened and same sex relationships were widely recognised.

    Ms Shaw said as well as a personal commitment marriage was a public recognition of a relationship, but this wasn't the case with some civil unions -- yet.
    Ref: - Timaru Herald


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