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McLean told a select committee considering the legalisation of same-sex marriage of the difficulty of growing up gay in NZ and the signal that the government sent by not allowing homosexual couples to marry.
"Put simply, I want the same rights that the majority of New Zealanders are afforded because ... I truly believe that the right to get married is a matter of human rights at its most basic level," he said yesterday.
The Close Up reporter, who previously worked on Breakfast, said writing his submission on the bill had reminded him of his decision to reveal his sexuality to his father - a rugby-playing, Speight's-drinking, construction company owner from Central Otago.
"That was six years ago, and the first thing he told me was how disappointed he was. Not in me, but in the things that he thought I would miss out on.
"Like any parent, he had dreams of having a beer with me on my wedding day and holding his first grandchild, and he was concerned that I might miss out on those things.
"As it stands, I will. Because at the moment there isn't marriage equality in this country."
He said that coming out as gay did not mean he was deciding against having a family. "So please give me the right to get married. Anything else just won't do. Because when I finally stand at the altar, I want my dad to be sitting there in the front row."
McLean argued that NZ had been a leader in women's rights and anti-nuclear legislation, and should preserve its progressive history by updating its marriage law.
"Let this be the next thing we're known for - giving all our citizens equal rights, and that means letting anyone who wants to, to get married."
Asked by the National MP for Invercargill, Eric Roy, what his father would think about his submission, McLean replied: "I got a text from him this morning. He read my submission, and he said in his text, 'I've never been prouder of you. Go on and make a difference'."
- Isaac Davison of the New Zealand Herald