New Zealand: Gay Marriage Passes
And thus, becoming the 13th nation in the world where gay marriage is legal.
UPDATE: The song is Pokarekare Ana, a “traditional New Zealand Maori love song” and the nation’s unofficial national anthem.
For Your Entertainment: New Zealand’s Naked Rugby
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New Zealand: MP Louisa Wall’s Marriage Equality Bill Advances In Parliament
New Zealand’s marriage equality bill passed overwhelmingly today in its first of three readings.The 80 to 40 vote in front of a packed and cheering public gallery was the first of three votes Parliament must take before the bill can become law, a process that typically takes several months and allows the public to weigh in. Only a simple majority was needed to ensure a second vote, and the margin is a strong indication that the law will be passed. Should New Zealand pass the measure into law, it would become the 12th country since 2001 to recognize same-sex marriages. Some states in the U.S. also recognize such marriages, but the federal government does not. Polls indicate about two-thirds of New Zealanders support gay marriage. It also has the support of most of the country’s political leaders.
New Zealand’s parliament has an interesting method of casting votes. Members actually get up from their seats to cast their votes on opposing sides of the podium. The result comes at 12:00. In the second clip, primary sponsor Louisa Wall (Labour) makes her case.
New Zealand: PM John Key Backs Equal Marriage
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has endorsed marriage equality and says that he will vote for the bill about to be presented in the national parliament.Mr. Key told RadioLive NZ he would use a conscience vote to vote in favour of Labour MP Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill, pulled from parliament’s ballot last week. “My view has been that if two gay people want to get married then I can’t see why it would undermine my marriage to Bronagh,” he said. “There will be plenty of people in our caucus who will be deeply opposed - particularly the very religious ones, and I can understand that.” Asked whether his conscience would change in the bill’s third reading, he said: “No”.
Key will not have the full support of his party on the vote.Controlling 59 of the 120 seats at the House of Representatives, Mr Key’s centre-right National Party is expected to have a diverse range of voting intentions. News.com.au indicates that 14 Green MPs have committed their support and most of the 34 Labour MPs should back a change in the law too. A poll in 2011 reported by the New Zealand Herald had found 60 per cent in favour of equal marriage rights for gay and straight couples and 34 per cent opposed. Support for such a measure rose to 79 percent among those aged 18 to 34.
New Zealand: Councillors Rally Against Anti-Gay Protester
The Dominion Post reports:
Kapiti district councillors have banded together to write an open letter accusing a local man of unacceptably anti-gay attacks on mayor Jenny Rowan.
Dale Evans (left), a Paraparaumu-Raumati community board member, emblazoned his community noticeboard in Paraparaumu with a message in pink paint declaring: “The gay times are over,” as well as an attack on the level of council debt.
Four years ago Mr Evans caused outrage when he donned a Ku Klux Klan outfit to deliver a speech to the council.
Six months later he dressed as a woman to address the council, prompting Ms Rowan and chief executive Pat Dougherty to called the police and have him escorted from the building.
Now councillors Dianne Ammundsen, Roger Booth, Mike Cardiff, Ross Church, Peter Ellis, Penny Gaylor, K Gurunathan, Tony Lester, Tony Lloyd and Hilary Wooding have signed the open letter castigating Mr Evans’ latest actions.
“This type of attack on the gay community does not only prejudice people within Kapiti but is an attack on the civil liberties of all New Zealanders,” the letter says.
“This incident, coupled with Mr Evans’ previous KKK episode beggars belief … this type of gutter politics is not wanted on the Kapiti Coast.”
Ms Rowan (right) was New Zealand’s first openly lesbian woman to be elected as a mayor.
Mr Evans said there was no intention to attack the mayor or any gay people.
“The dictionary says gay means good times, there was even a Johnny Gay ice-cream in the 50s. I have a few gay friends. If I was anti-gay, why would I get dressed up as a woman and go to council?
“This is PC gone wrong. Who gives the right for a certain section of society to block you out, stop someone saying what you want to say?
“There has always been a reason I have done things, maybe a bit different to the way other people do things, but always to get a message out there. Council [debt] is out of control.”
Ms Rowan did not want to comment but a council spokesperson said she was visibly moved by councillors’ support on the issue.
Saudi Arabia: 23 Year-Old Blogger, Hamza Kashgari, Could Face Death Penalty For Tweets
It’s for men like him that Nations begin their journeys towards Freedom & Human Rights. It’s time for the world to drag Saudi Arabia into their next century, at least, which in their case would be the 18th.
With this kind of things you can see that our cultures aren’t just different, but ours is better. Not perfect, just way better.
As the old Hitch would say: “religion poisons everything”. It poisons human dignity at its very core.
I truly hope the price he’ll pay isn’t his head.
New Zealand: Megaupload’s Founder, Kim Dotcom, Arrested, Police Raided Properties In Auckland
According to The Huffington Post, Megaupload is gonna be represented in court by Bob Bennet, who famously defended US President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Also, the company listed Swizz Beatz, a musician who married Alicia Keys in 2010, as its CEO. He was not named in the indictment and declined to comment through a representative.
The cutest thing ever! Just click and read.
New Zealand: Seal Uses Cat Door, Sacks Out On Couch
The cutest thing ever! Just click and read.
New Zealand: Gay Editor/Journalist, Phillip Alexander Cottrell, Dies After Beating
Police launched a murder investigation last night after Radio New Zealand bulletins editor Phillip Alexander Cottrell, 43, died in Wellington Hospital yesterday.
Cottrell, who suffered a condition that made his bones brittle, was beaten in Boulcott St minutes after he left work on The Terrace about 5.30am on Saturday. His life support was disconnected yesterday.
Detective Senior Sergeant Scott Miller this afternoon said there was an 11-minute window in which the attack could have taken place.
Cottrell left work at 5.30am and was spotted by a taxi driver at 5.41pm. Police believe the taxi driver may have just missed seeing the assault take place.
Cottrell was reportedly openly gay, though police did not think the attack was related to his sexuality and that would not be a focus for their investigations.
“We can not see any reason for Mr Cottrell to be involved in an altercation … He took that same route down Boulcott Street most days,” Miller said.
Cottrell was believed to be going to his home in central Wellington. His injuries indicate that a weapon might have been used, though police did not find one at the scene.
Miller said the nature of the injuries, which he described as “very severe”, indicated that Mr Cottrell saw the attacker or attackers approaching.
He said the injuries were serious enough that Mr Cottrell’s degenerative bone disease could not have been solely responsible for his death.
Police are compiling extensive CCTV inquiries through all businesses in the immediate area. At this time police do not know how many attackers were involved.
They have not yet located Cottrell’s brown men’s wallet and this would be part of their search.
Millar said police had spoken to a lot of witnesses but were still appealing for anyone else in the Gilmer Terrace and Boulcott Street area between 5.30am and 5.45am on Saturday to come forward.
Police were also contacting businesses in the area to talk to staff who may have been starting or finishing work at the time of the attack.
The autopsy was under way this afternoon.
Millar also expressed sympathy to Cottrell’s family and RNZ colleagues.
“Obviously the family are extremely devastated and have had to make decisions. It’s not an easy time.”
“It is a busy time of year just before Christmas and there are a lot of people are out, but this is an assault that couldn’t be predicted. This is unpredictable and unprovoked,” Millar said earlier today.
The death comes as monthly police statistics show serious assaults in Wellington have increased by 43 per cent in the past year.
Acting Wellington area commander Detective Inspector Steve Vaughan said he still believed the city to be safe despite the attacks.
“Random attacks are very very difficult for police to prevent, that is why the message is for everyone to control their own safety.
When you have people, trouble makers, miscreants coming into town…it is too difficult to police. I’m certainly concerned about any violence but it certainly is the exception not the norm. We have a very very safe city.”
New Zealand: Anti-Gay American Politician Donates Sperm To Lesbians
The New Zealand Herald reports:
A conservative Christian politician has a secret life as a sperm donor for lesbian couples - even though he has campaigned against gay marriage.
American politician Bill Johnson has spent most of this year in Christchurch helping run the earthquake recovery, all the while using the online persona “chchbill” to meet women who want help to get pregnant.
Under that persona, he has discussed making donations to at least nine women without the knowledge of his family in the US.
Three of the women are now pregnant, and Johnson has assisted another three with donations in the past month. It is believed he has been in communication with at least another three women to discuss sperm donation.
His actions as a sperm donor sparked concern in the fertility medicine community, whose guidelines recommend donations are made in the regulated environment of a fertility clinic, and that no man provide sperm donations to more than four families.
The restriction is to reduce the chance of accidental incest and to reduce the adverse impact on donors and children if - as the law allows - they seek each other out later in life.
There is also concern among the women about how much Johnson informed them of the number of different women he was making donations to.
Johnson was a 2009 candidate for the office of Governor of Alabama. He then went to work for disaster recovery company Ceres Environmental in Haiti after the devastating quake there in January 2010.
He moved to Christchurch after the February quake without his wife Kathy, a two-time Mrs America finalist who has three children from a former relationship. Johnson is long-term recovery manager for Ceres NZ.
The Herald on Sunday approached Johnson on Thursday at a restaurant in Christchurch where he had just finished dining with one of the women he had successfully impregnated.
He said the urge to become a biological father was “a need that I have”.
“I am married to the most beautiful woman in the world. When I married her I knew we couldn’t have any more children. She had a hysterectomy 10 years ago.
“There is nothing my wife would want to give me more in the world than a child of my own.”
Johnson, who has a degree in chemistry and is a member of the international high-IQ club Mensa, said he had told his wife he wanted to act as a sperm donor. The couple had sought counselling shortly after. He said he left believing she was aware he was going to continue.
Asked if his wife knew he was donating sperm, he said: “She does now.”
He said she did not know of any of the pregnancies. He said he had not planned on telling her until the children were born.
“Every person who is a father and a mother knows why I am doing this. If life’s circumstances had dealt me a different hand I wouldn’t be doing this. It is not the hand that life has dealt my wife.
“Reproduction and having children is as basic a human need as eating.”
Johnson said his urge to biologically father children came after the arrival of Kathy’s first grandchild in April.
“That’s what did it to me. When I held that grandbaby, that’s when it came to me …”
Johnson returned to New Zealand and enlisted in the online sperm donor registries.
The women spoken to by the Herald on Sunday say they met him through different sites. They included a number of women in same-sex relationships.
In his political life, Johnson campaigned on a conservative Christian platform which opposed gay marriage.
He said he did not know the “relationship status” of the women he donated to: “I just know they want to have children.” Asked if it mattered, he said: “I’m not going to answer that question.”
Johnson said he wanted to be involved in the lives of the children he had helped create if it was welcomed by their mothers. “I’ll be just as much a parent to them as they want me to be, as I am to my own children.”
He said publication of this story would make it difficult for him to stay in New Zealand.
“I’ve been trying to get my wife over here, my family over here … so I can be around for these children.”
He asked: “Would it make any difference that from the first month (of pregnancy) I started sending [one of the women] money to help?”
He said he was also financially supporting another pregnant woman. The payments he made in that case were increased because the woman already had one child.
Johnson also said he was aware of the fertility community’s recommended limit of four families for each donor. He believed he had stayed inside that limit.
Our inquiries into Johnson’s online life began after personal details were sent to the newspaper from an internet-based account under a pseudonym.
When approached for comment, Johnson confirmed the accuracy of the details.
On Friday, Johnson changed his mind about speaking to the newspaper and said he did not want his comments published.
He demanded to know the newspaper’s source, alleging the newspaper was in receipt of information that must have been sourced through phone or internet hacking.
Yesterday, Johnson said he had made a sworn statement to the police alleging his personal information had been illegally obtained.
He said some of the women to whom he had donated sperm were unaware of the extent of the donations.
He said he had not intended making the women aware of the existence of other siblings until they had babies, at which point he would tell them.
Johnson said he was aware of a requirement for the names of donors to be stored centrally so children could access information about biological siblings.
He said the requirement did not exist until the children had been born - and as yet, his biological children had not been.