Congratulations! Most people can easily wish you well, but the newness of same-sex marriage for foreigners going to New Zealand for the purpose of marriage isn’t as easy as that.
Since my Thai partner, Jakthon Phaengtho, and myself, Kai Kingsley III, an American expatriate, both artists living in Hua Hin, Thailand wished to wed, there was a price for our dream to be legally married in NZ.
Was it difficult? Well, suppose someone asked you to prove that “your love is real and genuine.” That isn’t easy. What it takes is a myriad of paperwork and proof of everything you own and what you privately share: even creating a chronologic montage of every picture together from seven years back. As an American, it isn’t a problem for me to come to Kiwi Land. Not so for a Thai citizen, who are profiled from the start. It seems NZ Immigration is very afraid that they will not return home. This is a major key issue with NZ Immigration and making sure they have even more money than ‘normal’ tourists.
As the first two gay men joined by another couple to marry a half hour of each other – Robert Burns, Jr and Jatuporn Namvised, all from beautiful Hua Hin, Thailand – we will tie the knot on 16 September 2013 at 2 and 2.30pm at the Office of the Registrar in Auckland.
The pro consul at the NZ Embassy in Bangkok said we were her first cases. While certifying even more papers, Wellington was having a 6.6 earthquake, so we had to express them to Auckland. We are, as far as we know, the first to come from Indochina altogether. Naturally, we are proud of our achievement. Our Thai partners now have their visa in their hands. We are forerunners. Most of us think we know what that means. It’s like the first skier to take a run through the downhill course, or in our case an uphill run. In reality, it means more and more papers, fees, documents (many brand new), proof and a battle to maintain composure through the arduous process, because we wanted to legally take this unique opportunity of NZ granting us the right to marry with a legal contract.
For the most part, I found most government officials friendly and helpful as I’ve experienced with most New Zealanders I know or have met. It’s the immigration office that had complete control of our fate: ‘to be or not to be married in NZ.’ That was the issue! After months of answering questions, notarizing, certifying and setting the marriage date almost in stone until our papers came back from Auckland to the NZ immigration office in Bangkok. My beloved partner Jakthon was finally approved.
Now I truly know what it takes to get through red tape. The test is: adherence to to bureaucratic rules and regulations, many of which are unnecessary. We fought the good fight to fulfil our dream and we’ll finally cross the long, Pacific bridge from Thailand to a country we have always dreamed of visiting.
| Kai Kingsley