ONE STATE WIVES: Dr Cindy Killion and wife Beth enjoy the Wellington cafe scene. The couple hopes that one day soon their marriage will be recognised in all of the United States of America. 

Gays and lesbians have it pretty easy in New Zealand, a visiting academic from the USA says.

Winona State University professor Dr Cindy Killion, a journalism lecturer, is currently visiting Wellington with her wife Beth to gain insight into New Zealand’s culture and media industry.


She says New Zealand’s same-sex marriage laws are far ahead of the USA where often the states play tug-of-war with the federal government and it can feel like the movement is “going backwards”.

“Thanks to the republicans” – Killion adds.

This didn’t stop her and Beth from getting married, though – they hopped over the border from Wisconsin to Minnesota the first day same-sex marriage became legal.

But Wisconsin will not recognise their marriage.

“When we go across the river we’re married and when we go back we’re not.

“We’re still fighting the battle.”

And Killion is prepared to fight.

She is the President of the 7 rivers LGBT centre, running workshops and facilitating meetings and events for members of the LGBT community, as well as being a tough administrator – “refer to me as a bulldozer”.

The centre, in its tenth year, has a strong youth group of around 25 young people which Killion is particularly proud of.

“I’ve had parents say to me: You’ve saved my child’s life.”

LGBT youth are vulnerable in the US says Killion and she hopes the youth group is able to provide support for them.

“Our goal is to end their isolation.”

Killion says despite sometimes feeling alone on the frontline, she is “willing to be the token lesbian” and continue to be a LGBT campaigner, but she advises fellow activists not to burn out.

“We need to have more fun.”

The couple will head up to Auckland soon to meet with local LGBT groups before continuing their travels in NZ.

 Article and Photo | Holly Dove