To the anger of many LGBT rights campaigners, two heterosexual men in New Zealand have gone ahead with their marriage to one another this morning.
They did so as a stunt, as part of a competition run by a local radio station, in order to win tickets to the Rugby World Cup in the UK in 2015.
‘The Edge Love You Man’ competition, run by youth radio station The Edge, was launched last month, purposefully seeking two best mates who would be prepared to take advantage of New Zealand’s same-sex marriage laws to prove the depths of their ‘bromance.’
The station says that it received around 200 entries, which it narrowed down to a set of finalists.
Last Friday, it was announced that Dunedin-based friends Matt McCormick, a 24-year-old teacher, and Travis McIntosh, a 23-year-old engineering student at Otago University had won the competition and would marry today (12 September). The two men, who are both straight, have been friends since childhood.
The competition has received mounting criticism from LGBTI-rights groups since it was first announced.
‘The point of this competition is that men marrying each other is still something they think is worth having a laugh at,’ said Joseph Habgood, co-chairman of LegaliseLove Aotearoa Wellington told the New Zealand Herald.
‘Maybe on the day that statistics around mental health for LGBTI (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex) people are better, when high schools are safe places for LGBTI youth, we can look back on all this and laugh, but competitions like this don’t bring that day any closer.’
Same-sex marriage was legalized in New Zealand in 2013. Since that time, approximately a third of ceremonies have involved Australians. Alex Greenwich, an independent MP for Sydney and former convener of Australian Marriage Equality told Sydney Morning Herald, ‘It essentially makes a mockery of marriage.
‘Marriage is a really important institution about love and commitment and it’s sad to see that there are people who are making a joke out of that.’
The couple themselves have denied that they wish to cause offence. Mr McIntosh told the Otago Daily Times, ‘We are not here to insult anyone. We are here to do our own thing and travel our own path… It’s just seeing how far two good mates would go to win a trip to the Rugby World Cup.’
The ceremony went ahead this morning at Eden Park stadium in Auckland before a crowd of 50 family members and friends. The men chose Cruisin’, by Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow, as their wedding song, and wrote vows for one another.
‘I promise to nurture your dreams… because they will get us into more situations like this… But most of all, I promise to be a true and loyal friend to you. I love you man,’ said McIntosh to McCormick.
Sports journalist and presenter James McOnie acted as MC for the celebration, which was broadcast live to listeners on The Edge. McIntosh and McCormick have indicated that they expect the marriage to last a couple of years before they seek a divorce.