Airline hosts mid-air, same-sex wedding

2013-08-20 10:35

(AP Photo/Nick Perry)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Queenstown - When Lynley Bendall and Ally Wanikau walked down the aisle to exchange vows, the fasten-seatbelt signs were off.

The couple celebrated the legalization of gay marriage in New Zealand by getting hitched in a plane at 39 000 feet. Along for the ride was Jesse Tyler Ferguson, star of the American TV sitcom "Modern Family."

Instead of soda and peanuts, the flight attendants served champagne and canapes.

Monday was the first day same-sex couples could marry in New Zealand, where the law was changed in April. Officials said about three dozen same-sex couples planned to marry.

Bendall and Wanikau were flying high after winning a promotion by national carrier Air New Zealand.

Their winning video featured their three young foster children holding handwritten signs saying why their parents should get married on a plane, including one that read "Wow!! Imagine that for news at school!!!"

Bendall said the law change is "huge" for New Zealand: "We're so proud."

She and Wanikau have been together 13 years. They are both childcare workers and met through work.

The newly wed Ferguson, whose husband Justin Mikita was also on the flight, said he hoped to help shine the spotlight on New Zealand's law change.

"So I'm very happy to come out here with my husband to bring some attention to this great day," said Ferguson, who was married in New York City last month.

Ferguson said that with gay marriage not legally recognized in 37 U.S. states, there is plenty of work to do there to change attitudes. He said television comedy is a great way to help normalize gay relationships.

"We really sneak into a lot of living rooms with no agenda," he said. People "start loving this gay couple on television, and they say, 'I love Cam and Mitch,' and so what's so different with Bob and Joe down the street?"

Ferguson said he faced discrimination growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

"It was very difficult. I was name-called a lot, I had to move schools a few times because I was bullied," he said. "A lot of those people who bullied me are now very jealous of my career, and have tried to connect with me on Facebook. And, of course, I'm a very forgiving person, but, you know, I don't totally forget."

Asked what he thought about leaving on the flight from a place called Queenstown, Ferguson laughed, saying he thought it was "very appropriate," and adding that "It hasn't gone unnoticed."

After the charter flight landed in Auckland, the plane was towed to a hangar for a reception with live music and a rainbow-colored wedding cake.

Celebrant Kim Jewel Elliott had twice before united the couple - first in 2001 in a commitment ceremony and then in 2009 in a civil union.

"I feel so happy," Elliott said. "Injustices still happen and there are still things to fight for. But this is a real day of joy."

---
Follow Nick Perry on Twitter at twitter.com/nickgbperry

 

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside Travel

 
/News

#FindYourEscape with Traveller24

Your insider guide to exploring South Africa and the world...
 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.