MLAs same-sex marriage catches national attention
When same sex marriage became legal last summer in British Columbia local Liberal MLA Ted Nebbeling and his long time partner decided it was time to exchange rings.
Like any wedding it took some time to work out the details. But on Nov. 15 last year Nebbeling married Jan Holmberg, 63, at their new Coal Harbour apartment.
"It was really a great opportunity, after having been together for 32 years, to reaffirm our commitment to each other through a ceremony," said Nebbeling, 59, earlier this week.
"It was really something that was meaningful for both of us. We both wanted it.
"It really was important to us and very touching and very meaningful."
Nebbeling and Holmberg met in Amsterdam in the early 70s and in 1977 moved together to Whistler.
They owned and operated several retail outlets and Nebbeling served on council for 10 years before entering provincial politics in 1996. He served four years as a councillor and six as mayor.
Only a handful of close friends were invited to the November ceremony performed by a marriage commissioner and all were sworn to secrecy until Nebbeling planned to brief his colleagues at the first caucus meeting of the year, due to be held next month.
However, the story broke in the Vancouver media this week and with it came a flurry of attention on the couple and the issue.
Nebbeling is believed to be the most senior politician to have a same-sex marriage. At the time he was a cabinet minister. That changed on Monday when Premier Gordon Campbell shuffled his cabinet and Nebbeling was relegated to the back bench (see related story in Pique).
While Nebbeling said his political life played no role in the decision to get married he does hope that his profile and the marriage have a positive effect.
"I hope it strengthens other gay people to do what the right thing is for them, as Jan and I did, and I also hope that those who are opposed to gay marriages think a little more about it," said Nebbeling.
"I hope they will say, hey, these guys have given a lot, they are hard working, they have 32 years commitment, those are values we would like to see in any married couple. So hopefully people will get more comfortable with it."
That may already be happening as Nebbeling has been inundated with faxes, e-mails and phone calls from people congratulating him on his marriage.
"And many, many of these are from non-gay married people," said Nebbeling adding that he fully expected to hear from people opposed to same sex weddings but hasnt.