Chris Auchinvole’s speech on gay marriage was widely hailed as one of the best given by a politician in the debate this week on the legislation.
MPs from across the House say it was the best speech of his parliamentary career.
But for thousands of people on social media, the question was: “Who is this Chris Auchinvole?”
He is a 68-year old West Coast-based list MP for National who, until this week, did not know what “trending” was – until he was told that his speech was a hit on Twitter.
His executive assistance printed off 40 pages of comments from Twitter on the speech and that was only 1 per cent of the feedback, he said. There wasn’t a single negative remark.
“Could you be my grandfather?” “Where have they been hiding him?” and “Chris Auchinvole for Emperor” were some of them.
You can see some of the comments here. It was a great speech, and I’m glad so many people got to see his sense of humour, and also his compassion.
Mr Auchinvole insists he had no position on gay marriage until he sat on the select committee considering Louisa Wall’s bill legalising it.
“Hand on heart. It would be quite wrong to say I have any particular sympathy for any particular group. I don’t think that would be honest.
“I know it’s a funny, old-fashioned way of approaching things but I think you have to go with an open mind and be persuaded by argument. That appeals to my Scottish nature. Even if I felt it were wrong, if it made good sense you have to go with it.”
He said there was a big generational difference in the submissions the select committee received, with generally the older submitters saying definitively, “You cannot do this”, and the younger submitters saying, “Why on Earth can’t you do this?”
Sums it up pretty well. But good to have an MP who listens to the submissions. It is very true that Chris went from luke-warm to ardently in favour on the basis of what he heard. It is a good message to submitters that they can make a difference.
Mr Auchinvole said he was sympathetic to the older submitters because they, like him, were taught that homosexuality was immoral, illegal, and criminal.
“People’s reputations could be lost on the basis that people thought they were homosexual, and I always thought that was an injustice.”
He said that at the boarding school he attended over five years, “we lost boys at school”.
Five of 120 boys committed suicide, invariably in the holidays, because, he believes, they were gay.
“They were good guys, and it was awful. We liked them all.”
Tired and delighted that the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill passed its second reading by 77 votes to 44. That means 64% of MPs voted for it and 36% against. Four MPs swapped from yes to no (Brownlee, McCully, Coleman, McKelvie) and Huo went from abstain/absent to a yes (he explains why here).
I expect that the third reading will be by much the same number. Second reading is the stage where normally some people may shift their vote based on what has happened during the select committee process.
So let’s cover the evening from the beginning. I have to say I really love Parliament when it is debating a conscience issue – you get MPs speaking with passion about what they really believe and think, a massive difference from most bill debates which are relatively pro-forma. It really is Parliament at its best.
Due to the unexpected need to debate the Budget Policy Statement, it was far from clear at the beginning of the day if the marriage bill would conclude its second reading. To do so Parliament had to get through question time, the Budget Policy Statement, a third reading, a committee stage, half a second reading and then the marriage bill second reading.
Few people wanted to have the debate cut in half where it starts yesterday and concludes in two weeks, so with some astute MPs taking shorter calls than they could on earlier debates, the marriage bill debate started just after 8 pm.
The gallery was packed. And I mean packed – there was a queue to get in forming around 7 pm, and they ran out of seats so allowed many to just stand at the back of the public galleries. I wasn’t sure how many were supporters and how many were opponents, but noticed that the vast majority were young Kiwis. This is very rare in the gallery, and great to see.
I may have joked that probably all the women there were lesbians or fundamentalist Christians, which reduced my chances of scoring. A lesbian friend consoled me with the thought that there may be some bisexuals there
There were 12 speakers on the bill. They were in order:
Louisa Wall (Lab) – in favour
Tim Macindoe (Nat) against
Ruth Dyson (Lab) – in favour
Chris Auchinvole (Nat) – in favour
Trevor Mallard (Lab) – in favour
Winston Peters (NZF) – against, sought to send to referendum
Kevin Hague (Green) – in favour
Kanwaljit Bakshi (Nat) – against
Lianne Dalziel (Lab) – in favour
Tau Henare (Nat) – in favour
Jan Logie (Green) – in favour
Chester Borrows (Nat) against
There were two common themes in the speeches. The first was that MPs were generally very respectful of the passionate views on this issue. Those in favour spoke of their desire to respect religious views and the safeguards that had been placed in the bill to help with that. Those against spoke of how touching some of the testimony had been, but what their concerns were with the change. There was, for the main part, no name calling or insinuations about motives. It was a good debate.
The second theme was about how the communications from some of those oppossed to the bill had not helped their cause – and that came from MPs who were against the bill. There was a strong message there.
The draft Hansard is here. I could quote and critique every speech, but will just touch on a couple. Tim Macindoe said:
A common theme of many emails from the bill’s supporters, given that my Christian faith was and remains the main reason for my position, was that ours is a secular society and my faith should be left out of the debate. I understand that view but in matters of conscience one must fall back on firm foundations. To ignore what I perceive to be God’s will in this debate would therefore be unthinkable, even though I acknowledge that not all Christians think as one in this matter and I agree with Glyn Carpenter in the New Zealand Christian Network that Christians must approach this matter graciously and with respect.
It’s good that Tim was explicit that he voted against because he thinks it goes against God’s will. The question for me is whether what some people interpret to be God’s will should be a reason to impose that view through legislation. That is a slippery slope that leads to (for example) sharia law in some countries, based on what their MPs think is God’s will. Until such a time as God speaks for himself on such issues, I can’t agree with laws based on God’s will.
Last year I indicated that a principal reason for my opposition was my concern that Parliament is moving ahead of the churches on this issue.
If Parliament didn’t move ahead of churches on various issues, we’d be in the dark ages. The churches wanted homosexuality to effectively remain a criminal offence. The 1986 law change was well ahead of the churches – yet almost no one today says that law change was wrong.
The best speech of the night was National MP Chris Auchinvole. I’ve embedded the speech below and recommend it highly for a great listen. Just as Paul Hutchison was the stand out of the first reading, Auchie was the stand out of the second reading. Interestingly while generally support for allowing same sex marriage is greater amongst younegr New Zealanders and less so amongst over 60s, it is worth noting Hutch is 65 and Auchie 67.
A couple of quotes:
Although I cannot imagine, if the bill passes, that a particularly large percentage of the population will suddenly take the opportunity to engage in same-gender marriages, I also cannot imagine that any number would make one iota of difference to the 41 years of marriage that my wife and I have enjoyed, or to anybody else’s heterosexual marriage. I cannot see it. I have thought deeply about this and cannot believe that the social impact of the bill would herald the demise and collapse of the wider societal values in New Zealand. I respect the right of those who wish to hold to that view, but I cannot give it currency in coming to a defined position on this bill.
Having a few more married couples in New Zealand will be good for society in my view!
Another grouping held a perception that this is counter to religious views and practices and represents State interference in religious practice, beliefs, and dogma. The select committee listened very carefully and sincerely to the concerns expressed. As someone who had 5 years as a lay minister for the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa / New Zealand and was a member of the council of assembly for the Presbyterian Church, I had a particular interest in this aspect of the discussion. It became clear through listening that the overriding concern is that the clergy and those authorised by religious bodies to conduct marriages would be obliged—indeed, forced—to conduct ceremonies for same-gender couples should the bill be passed.
And the amendments make clear this can not happen.
The third consideration—we have heard it spoken by my colleague and friend Tim Macindoe this evening—is that marriage is an institution: time honoured, never changing, and having the essential components of one man and one woman common to all countries and civilisations throughout the millennia until death do them part.
It ain’t necessarily so. I am privileged to have my wife in the gallery tonight. My wife and I married on 11 March, 41 years ago last Monday, and lived happily ever after. But the question that exercises the upper echelons of ecclesiastic minds in those days was whether or not the bride should take a vow of obedience to her husband. If you are marrying a red-headed West Coast girl from a West Coast aristocratic family, some hope. During that same time, to have children born out of wedlock was a hamper to church marriage, as was a divorce, or indeed wanting to marry someone of a different religion. Banns of marriage were called from pulpits, advising that people were intending marriage, and others were invited to give reasons why that marriage should not proceed or to forever hold their peace. Marriage is not an unchanging institution, and although most of its institutional aspects have been laudable for men, they have often been less than favourable for women.
And other speakers touched on how just a few decades ago some states in the US banned inter-racial marriage.
The last two aspects I wish to touch on are the matter of conscience and the question of family coming first. In terms of conscience, I have given much, much thought to this. I am acquainted with guilt. Being a Presbyterian, one goes through life thinking that one has not worked hard enough, has not done enough, and has not reached the requirement that life’s opportunities offer, and you will always get other members who will tell you that, as one did this evening. To assuage my conscience on this issue, I delved back in my life to the age of understanding, which I think those of Catholic persuasion tell me the Jesuits determine it is at 7 years old, when I was a boy. I looked at catechismic values—learning the catechism by rote in Glasgow: “Who made you? God made me. Why did God make you? God made me to know him and love him.” The third question: “What image did God make you in?” The answer: “God made me in his own image.” Every 7-year-old boy and girl said the same, and believed it was true. They did not have to add: “as long as I conform to being heterosexual, and not to loving anyone of the same gender as myself.” My conscience is very clear on this issue. Every person has the same spiritual claim as one another, to being made in the image of God, and it will take a braver person than I am to deny that.
So, in dealing with the legacy of discriminatory prejudice, and I would not want that to be a deciding feature, I prayerfully ask to be able to internalise and resolve this complicated situation in my head, in my heart, and in my soul.
What I learnt from listening to the submissions, colleagues, was that in fact each homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person appearing before us was not to be seen just as an individual, not to be identified just by gender preference, but in fact seen as a mother’s son or a daughter, and a father’s daughter or son, as siblings to their brothers and sisters, grandchildren to their grandparents, nephews and nieces to their uncles and aunts, and uncles and aunts to their nephews and nieces, and cousins to their cousins. They are all family, along with their heterosexual friends and relations, and all are an integral part of the New Zealand family, and all are part—in my mind, in my heart, and in my conscience—of God’s family. I now realise that this bill seeks to put first something that critics have accused it of undermining, and that isempt to b the family. We as parliamentarians should not simply look past the interests of the applicants for this bill. We should not simply look at their interests. We should, and we must, look after their interests. We should pass this bill.
I’m so glad I was in the House (galleries) for this speech. Television doesn’t do justice to the atmosphere. The sympathetic nods from around the House, the claps and smiles, the laughter, the intense interest. It was again my favourite speech of the night.
One saw this also with the next speech by Winston Peters. As he was calling for a referendum, he railed against “politicians who think they know best” and said “There is nothing more odious, more loathsome, than politicians who think they know best”. What wouldn’t have been captured by cameras is that there was spontaneous laughter from almost the entire public galleries as Winston was railing against politicians who think they know best, as it was self-evident to everyone that Winston is of course the classic politician who always thinks he knows best. The laughter wasn’t deliberate or an attempt to be disrespectful – it was just a spontaneous outbreak as his speech almost became self-parody unwittingly.
Anyway we got to the votes at around 9.45 pm. There were actually three votes. They were:
To accept the select committee report and proposed amendments.
Winston’s amendment to the second reading motion proposing a referendum at the next general election in place of reading the bill a second time.
The motion that the bill be read a second time and proceed
The first vote passed 66 to 21. I think the whips may have been unaware that there are always two distinct votes at second readings and they only had proxy votes to cover the second reading vote but not to cover the accept the select committee report vote.
The amendment by Peters for a referendum went down 33 to 83. It was an interesting quirk of standing orders that while you can not amend a bill at second reading, you can amend the motion for it to pass its second reading.
The final vote was the key one, and the Assistant Speaker announced it passed 77-44. There was a round of applause but fairly muted as the galleries had been warned not to participate in the business of the House. However once the House was adjourned the entire public galleries rose spontaneously to give a sustained standing ovation to the House and MPs. It was quite electric, and I suddenly realised as I looked around the galleries that I think every single person there was in fact a supporter of the bill as they were all standing and applauding.
Got to sleep around 2.30 am. Will finish this post with a quote from Chester Borrows who in fact voted against the bill. But he made a good point:
As a Christian—a conservative Christian—I find it abhorrent the way that Christians have entered into this debate, and the threatening nature with which they have emailed colleagues. I know of colleagues who have set out thinking they will vote against this bill and who have changed their mind because of the way they have been treated by Christians, supposedly worshipping in their daily lives and witness a loving God. If they profess to worship that God, then it is a different God whom I worship and whom I believe in, because they have shown nothing of that love—that all-encompassing love—in the way that they have conducted themselves in this debate. It is unfortunate that in every debate where fundamentalist Christians get involved in lobbying one side or another, they always bring out the worst, and seek to have those people who do not hold to our faith shove us into a pigeon-hole that would brand us all in the same way. I think that is a despicable way for people of faith to behave.
I know a number of MPs whose support for the bill was lukewarm, but they became more staunch in support of the bill due to some of the appalling e-mails they got from some opponents.
The House of Representatives will tomorrow vote on the second reading of Louisa Wall’s bill which will allow same sex couples to marry. I’ve blogged previously on the issues involved, and want to focus on the quite remarkable change in opinions on this issue around the world.
Consider that just over 25 years ago, consensual adult sex between two men was illegal. And today Parliaments all around the world are saying that same sex couples should be able to marry.
Micah Cohen of 538 looks at the latest poll in California. In 2003 support for same sex marriage was just 42%. A decade later it is 61%. Just four years ago California voted in favour of banning same sex marriage. A vote today would inevitably see that reversed.
Within a few years same sex marriage will be legal in pretty much every English-speaking country and most European countries.
Support for allowing same sex marriage will continue to rise at the incredibly fast rate it has been. This is because there is a huge age differential on this issue. Support amongst those aged under 30 is often well over 3:1 and the only age group opposed (if any) tends to be over 60s
I predict there will not be a single MP who votes for same sex marriage will will regret that vote.
The fact that so many MPs who voted against homosexual law reform in the 1980s and civil unions more recently have later said they regret their vote, suggests that the same will apply with the vote on same sex marriage.
On that last point, it is worth reflecting that just a few weeks ago the former Speaker, Lockwood Smith, said how much he regretted voting against homosexual law reform. In fact I doubt you can find a single MP who voted against it, who still thinks they were right to do so.
We saw the same with Civil Unions. Don Brash has said how much he regrets swapping his vote to vote against civil unions. Even the PM, John Key, has indirectly indicated he regrets voting against civil unions (he says he was following his electorate, not his own views). And I know many others who voted against, and now say they agree they were a good thing. It is ironic that the existence of civil unions is used as a justification by some to vote against same sex marriage, because of course they were against civil unions also.
There is no real question that Louisa Wall’s bill will pass second reading. The only real issue will be by how much, and who voted which way. So my concern is not the bill passing into law. My concern is that a number of MPs may come to sincerely regret how they voted, as so many others before them have on similar issues. We should learn the lessons of history, not repeat them.
Look if an MP genuinely truly believes that same sex marriage will be very bad for New Zealand, then of course they should vote against. I believe MPs should vote with their conscience and with their true beliefs. I disagree with those beliefs and think they are wrong on this issue, but I can respect people who stand by what they believe (within reason).
But some MPs don’t have strong views on the issue. They are focused on economic issues, education, health etc. They don’t see the the issue of same sex marriage as a burning issue for them.
And to some degree I agree – as much as I support same sex marriage – I far from think it is the biggest priority for the Government and Parliament. I regard the economy, education, welfare reform etc as more critical issues.
But regardless it is now up for the second reading vote. This is automatic under standing orders, and MPs now have to vote on it.
If you’re an MP who doesn’t have a strong view on the issue, my advice is simply to think about whether in 10 years time you want to be explaining to the many married same sex couples (and their friends) why you voted to ban them from being able to marry?
As an issue, it may not be as important as the economy, jobs, welfare reform etc but for many people it is a deeply personal issue. Effectively telling 6% of the country that they should remain unable to marry is something that does matter to them. And it does matter to their friends also.
We saw yesterday all eight youth wings advocate in favour of same sex couples being able to marry. That is an extraordinary thing. But it reflects the world they live in, which is the world of the future – as we see around the globe.
Almost all younger New Zealanders have some gay friends. They had gay friends at school, had gay friends at university, work with gay colleagues. They, for the most part, can’t understand why some of their friends should be able to marry, but not all of them. They don’t think that having more of their friends able to marry, will undermine their own future marriages.
As I said, there is a global and frankly irreversible trend in the “Western” world on this issue. Future generations will be just as bemused by the fact that once upon a time same sex couples couldn’t marry, as today’s generation are bemused by the fact that once women couldn’t vote.
I just wonder in the end, why would you want to be on the wrong side of history?
Parliamentary youth reps unanimously back marriage equality
In an unprecedented joint initiative youth reps from all eight parties in Parliament have combined together to demonstrate the overwhelming support amongst young New Zealanders for same sex couples to be able to marry.
Young Nats Vice President Shaun Wallis said that Young Nats were delighted the majority of National MPs voted in favour of marriage equality at first reading and hope they will continue to do at the second reading this week “Our members overwhelmingly supports marriage equality as we believe in freedom and equal opportunity for all Kiwis.”
Young Labour spokesperson Sam Thompson said that marriage equality and adoption reform are the number one policy priority for Young Labour. “We believe our representatives in Wellington really value equality and a fair go and will continue to support expanding the right to marry to everyone who has a partner they love and want to spend their life with.”
Young Greens spokesperson Izzy Lomax said that the Young Greens were delighted that all 14 Green MPs voted in favour of marriage equality as we believe in a society without discrimination, and look forward to an end to all discrimination against rainbow communities, starting with allowing loving same sex couples to marry”.
“NZ First Youth leader Curwen Rolinson said that NZ First Youth is united in supporting a referendum on this issue. While there is a large and vocal proportion of NZ First Youth who would vote in favour, it is by no means unanimous. We feel that the important thing is for progressive changes in legislation to come with the direct backing and support of the people – not filtered through layers of temporarily empowered politicians and political parties. A referendum is the fairest, most inclusive and democratic method of achieving this. It is our hope that MPs of other parties will realize this and join our call for a referendum.”
Maori Party kaikorero rangatahi Teaonui Mckenzie said that he is proud that all three Maori Party MPs support the right of same sex couples to marry and form a whanau. “This generation will not tolerate any form of discrimination, whether by race, gender or sexual orientation.”
MANA Rangatahi spokesperson Ian Anderson says that “MANA are fully behind the Bill and will work to reduce societal inequality wherever possible, in this case bringing New Zealand law into line to provide the opportunity for same-sex couples to enter marriage.”
Act on Campus President Taylor Warwood said that “Act on Campus have been long-time supporters of marriage equality, and were delighted that ACT MP John Banks voted for Louisa Wall’s bill at its first reading and believe its passage will be entirely consistent with ACT policy of one law for all.”
United Future spokesman Damian Light said that “allowing couples who love each other to marry is just common sense and we’re proud that Hon Peter Dunne, our Party Leader, has been a vocal supporter of this bill. Our support of this bill is consistent with our liberal belief in equality for all.”
“This show of support for marriage equality by every party’s youth wing sends a powerful message. Marriage equality is no longer a question of if, but of when. We can’t wait for Parliament to vote in favour of the Bill.” said Campaign for Marriage Equality Spokesperson Conrad Reyners.
The eight youth reps, representing youth members of parties comprising 120 of the 121 MPs in Parliament believe their combined show of support reflects the over-whelming support for marriage equality amongst younger New Zealanders (76% in favour in Colmar Brunton May 2012 poll).
Some commenters and others have alleged that the Government is “rushing” the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment bill through Parliament. This is incorrect, and in fact isn’t even possible. The Government can control the order and timing of Government bills, but has no ability to speed up or slow down Members’ Bills – especially ones that are conscience issues.
The process and timing for Members’ Bills is controlled by Parliament’s Standing Orders. I thought it would be useful to take people through what these are, and how they have worked in this case.
An MP submits a proposed Members’ Bill to the Clerk – SO 274. Louisa Wall did this on 1 June 2012
If at any time less than eight Members’ Bills are awaiting a first reading, a ballot is triggered under SO 277(1). This occurred on Wed 27 June and Wed 25 July when the House had a Members’ Day and considered a number of other Members’ Bill that were awaiting first reading.
Ballots were held on Thu 28 June and Thu 26 July. On 28 June four bills were selected out of 65 submitted and on 26 July five bills were selected out of 63 submitted. The Marriage (DOM) Bill was one of those selected on 26 July.
The bill was introduced to Parliament that day – SO 277(3)
The bill is set down for a first reading three sitting days later – SO 281(2), which is Thu 2 August 2012.
In every two weeks of House sitting, Govt bills are debated on five of the six sitting days, and Members’ bills are given priority on every second Wednesday – SO 74(1). Generally there will be four and a half hours available.
On Members’ Days, any local or private bills take precedence – SO 63. This means that a Members’ Bill will not be debated until any local or private bills scheduled for a reading or committee stage are dealt with first.
If they get to Members’ Bills, any bills awaiting third reading, committee stage or second reading are given priority over a bill awaiting first reading. S70(1)
There was a Members’ Day on 15 August which did not see the Marriage (DOM) Bill got to, but on Wed 29 August its first reading was held. There are 11 speeches lasting 65 minutes under Appendix A. The vote was 80-40.
At the conclusion of the first reading, the MP in charge nominates a select committee for it to be referred to. SO 283(1). It was referred to the Government Administration Select Committee.
The Select Committee is required under SO 291/1 to report back the bill within six months, which in this case is 28 February 2013. The only way this deadline can be extended is if Parliament unanimously (or near unanimously consents.
The Select Committee called for submissions on 12 September, and allowed the normal six weeks until 26 October.
They received 21,533 submissions with 10,487 in favour and 8,148 against. 2,898 of the submissions were individual ones, not form letters.
The Select Committee starting hearing oral submissions on the 7th of November and the last submission was heard on 30th of January. They heard 220 submissions in person with hearings in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The final day for oral submissions was only 4 weeks before the bill had to be reported back.
The Select Committee then considered the bill, the submissions, proposed amendments, had a report drafted and voted to accept the report. They reported back on 27 February 2013 – the second to last day possible.
The bill is then set down under SO 292 for a second reading three sitting days later. This is Thu 6 March.
The second reading will occur automatically on a Member’s Day once any local or private bills on the order paper are dealt with, and any committee stage or third readings of Members’ Bills. There are three such bills ahead of it on the Order Paper which will take place on Wed 13 March – the next Members’ Day. This is all automatic under Standing Orders – the Government gets no say on it.
If the second reading passes on 13 March, then the committee stage is likely to be on Wed 27 March when amendments can be considered.
After the committee stage, the third reading is likely to be Wed 17 April.
All this timetabling is basically automatic. The rules of Parliament are binding. Only with unanimous leave can dates or timing be changed. This is deliberate. It is important that the Executive only controls its own bills, but doesn’t control Parliament as a whole.
Some people are saying that The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, as reported back by the Select Committee will remove husband and wife from the Marriage Act and people will just legally be spouses.
This is incorrect.
The Marriage Act 1955 currently refers to husbands and wives in two main sections, and both are unaffected by the Bill. The first is S31(3) which says:
During the solemnisation of every such marriage each party must say to the other—
(a)“I AB, take you CD, to be my legal wife or husband”; or
(b)words to similar effect; or
(c)in the case of the solemnisation of a marriage in accordance with the rules and procedures of a specified body that require different words to be used as a marriage vow than those set out in paragraph (a), those words.
Again, this section is totally unchanged by the bill. The requirement to refer wife or husband (or similiar words) is unchanged.
The other section is s33(2) which is about marriages before the Registrar.
During the solemnisation of every such marriage each party to it shall declare:
I solemnly declare that I do not know of any impediment to this marriage between me AB and CD, And shall say to the other party: I call on the people present here to witness that I, AB, take you, CD, to be my legal wife (or husband), or words to similar effect.
This section is also unchanged.
In a section to the Act on forbidden marriages, there is a schedule of people whom a man can not marry and a schedule of people whom a woman can not marry. The two separate lists are now combined into one, so rather than saying you can not marry your wife’s mother or husband’s father it now says your spouse’s parent. No big deal. This change is only to the schedule of forbidden marriages and is not a change to the main Act which still refers to husband and wife.
The Bill does make what is called consequential amendments to 15 other acts, which for the sake of convenience the term spouse is used.
The term husband is actually used in a total of 67 Acts of Parliament. It remains in the Marriage Act, and remains in the vast majority of Acts. It is not being removed from the Marriage Act, and it is not being removed from the law books. All that is happening in in a few Acts the term spouse is being used because it is more convenient.
And you know what – the term “spouse” is already used in 136 Acts of Parliament!
So no the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill does not remove the term “husband and wife” from the law books. It doesn’t remove it from the Marriage Act. It doesn’t introduce the term spouse into the law as a replacement – the term is already used in 136 Acts of Parliament. This issue is a red herring.
Will not come into force immediately upon royal assent, but up to four months later
A new s29(2) which says “Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), no celebrant who is a minister of religion recognised by a religious body enumerated in Schedule 1, and no celebrant who is a person nominated to solemnize marriages by an approved organisation, is obliged to solemnize a marriage if solemnizing that marriage would contravene the religious beliefs of the religious body or the religious beliefs or philosophical or humanitarian convictions of the approved organisation.”
Repeals s56 which made it an offence to deny the validity of a marriage
Has consequential amendments to the Adoption Act, Crimes Act and other Acts
These are very helpful amendments, and meet the concerns of many whom submitted they were concerned that a law change could force Ministers of Religion into being forced to conduct same-sex marriages. It was doubtful it would, but the proposed changes remove doubt.
Another change, which I submitted on, was that if someone said a same sex marriage was not a “true” marriage they could be charged under the obscure s56. There never has been a prosecution, but removal of the section again removes doubt.
One consequential change is that if a married person legally changes their gender identity, they will no longer be automatically divorced.
Also there was some doubt over whether married same sex couples would be eligible to adopt children as a couple, based on this law change. The consequential amendments make it clear they will. Note that a gay or lesbian can already adopt a child, and many have. They are just currently restricted to adopting by themselves, rather than with their partner.
I expect the second reading is likely to be on Wed 13 March, and committee stage on Wed 27 March and finally a third reading on Wed 17 April. But this all depends on what local bills or other members’s bills are around, so dates may change.
The MPs on the select committee had over 20,000 submission to wade through and heard hundreds of oral submissions. While people will disagree on the main purpose of the bill, I think most will appreciate the improvements made to the bill – which is the main job of a select committee. It is up to Parliament as a whole to really decide if a bill proceeds or not. The Select Committee’s job is to improve it, and I think they have done this.
Conservative Party leader Colin Craig is using his personal wealth to make a nationwide drop of leaflets which criticise MPs who do not follow their electorate’s wishes.
His office has published and distributed 200,000 leaflets at a cost of $55,000 – a figure which Mr Craig expects to double as he ramps up his party’s electioneering.
The leaflets have accused MPs of ignoring their electorates in making changes against the wishes of the majority, such as the anti-smacking bill and asset sales.
Mr Craig was especially critical of Prime Minister John Key for backing a bill to legalise same-sex marriage – a move he felt was out of tune with Mr Key’s Helensville electorate.
“This is not an insignificant issue. The majority of people genuinely feel their MP should be guided by their own electorate and not their own opinion.”
I disagree entirely. I quote (again) Edmund Burke:
Certainly, Gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinions high respect; their business unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasure, his satisfactions, to theirs,—and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own.
But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure,—no, nor from the law and the Constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
As much as I would personally benefit from MPs making all their decisions based on opinion polls, I think it is wrong. Public opinion is always something to be considered and of influence. But at the end of the day decisions should be made on the basis of whether you believe an action is good or bad.
Mr Craig said that if he was elected, he would vote for gay marriage if his electorate demanded it, in spite of his strong opposition to the law change.
Okay so does this mean if Colin Craig was an electorate MP and a poll showed the majority of his electorate support abortion on demand, Colin Craig would vote for the law to be abortion on demand – no matter how strongly he personally feels it is murder?
I’d like to see an answer to that question. Would Colin Craig vote for abortion on demand if a majority of the electorate backed it?
In a lengthy Commons debate, which saw impassioned speeches for and against the bill, Margot James warned her parliamentary colleagues of the dangers of standing on the wrong side of history.
The MP for Stourbridge, who is gay, told the Commons: “I believe my party should never flinch from the requirement that we must continue this progression, otherwise we may end up like the Republican party who lost an election last year that they could have won were it not for their socially conservative agenda.”
James was a successful entrepreneur before she entered Parliament.
Sir Roger Gale, the MP for North Thanet, accused the prime minister of an “Orwellian” attempt to redefine marriage. “It is not possible to redefine marriage,” he said.
“Marriage is the union between a man and a woman – has been historically, remains so. It is Alice in Wonderland territory, Orwellian almost, for any government of any political persuasion to seek to come along and try to rewrite the political lexicon.
Historically interracial marriage was banned also. Historically it was illegal to be gay, so of course there is no tradition of gay marriage.
Nick Herbert, the former police minister who is in a civil partnership, mocked opponents of the bill. “Are the marriages of millions of straight people about to be threatened because a few thousand gay people are permitted to join? What will they say: ‘Darling our marriage is over, Sir Elton John has just got engaged to David Furnish’.”
The vote details are sill sketchy, but it looks like the breakdown is:
In a report on the Select Committee hearing the Redefinition of Marriage Bill -that the media continue to misrepresent as the “Marriage Equality Bill” (a partisan epithet – latest distortion The Press, p. 2 Jan 31)- we are expected to believe that teenage gay people are committing suicide because they cannot marry each other. That really stretches credulity. Even a lawyer maintains this, citing a study.
“The denial of equal rights lies in the background here, as parents are encouraged to see non-heterosexual as properly excluded from the normal institutions of society.” What utter manipulative rubbish.
This tired old untruth is trotted out all the time, as a justification for giving gay people everything they want, hero parades, special support groups. Basically it says, “if we don’t get what we want, we’ll kill ourselves,” or “gays are so persecuted, they are considering suicide.” That is disingenuous, distortionary and demeaning to the gay community.
The only thing disingenuous and distortionary is John’s blog post. It’s appalling. Absolutely no one has has said gays will go out and kill themselves if they don’t get gay marriage passed.
What people have said is that gay teenagers have a high suicide and attempted suicide rate, and any move which makes them not feel that they are “wrong” could help reduce that rate.
If people are so insecure about being different, or about their sexuality, to the point of ending their lives, they have a mental health issue, and need support and care, not “marriage” being redefined. If the claim were true, then bisexuals and people in multiple partner relationships would also be dropping like flies. New Zealanders also have a high suicide rate; should we all get Australian citizenship?
The lack of empathy in this paragraph is truly appalling, and worse from someone I normally have a lot of time and respect for.
To just state that it is just a mental health issue, if you are a suicidal gay youth suggests no idea at all of what it must be like to be young and gay. Most of us can only imagine what it is like, but only a small amount of empathy is needed to understand how agonising it must be to be say 15 or 16 and realising you are different from your mates. You like guys instead of girls. How do you tell your parents? How do you tell your mates? Should you tell them? Will they dump you as a mate because they’ll think you fancy them? Will you get called a faggot? Will you be beaten up? Will you have a happy life? Will you ever have kids? Will your parents disown you? Of course you’re going to be fucking insecure if you are a gay youth.
I recall from when I was at school, the terrible teasing effeminate kids got about possibly being gay. Rumours (almost certainly untrue) that x and y had been caught doing something weant around the school. They were called names. They were asked outright if they liked cock. I think back and wonder how fortunate it was there were not some suicides. Now thankfully many kids today are more enlightened (mainly due to legal and societal changes of the last 20 years) and are more accepting. But hell, anyone who thinks because you are insecure over being a gay teenager you are suffering from a mental health issue – well words fail me.
And yes I for one absolutely think that a law which allow gay couples to marry, will have a beneficial effect on young gays. It is a powerful sign of acceptance, and of saying that even though you are different, you may be able to one day also marry the person you fall in love with.
Of course no one commits suicide solely because they can not marry. But no one has suggested that. All the suicide experts know that suicide decisions have many factors. But acceptance is a factor.
Treat us, the public, with respect and don’t insult our intelligence with representations like this. What utter nonsense. Young Christians are hassled, mocked, derided and picked on constantly in schools, the media, on TV, for their faith. Only this week Green MP Keith Hague said teenage Christian Grace Carroll was “outrageous” and “offensive” because she mentioned “virtue.” Black really has become White. Christian teenagers don’t commit suicide. They soldier bravely on, shouldering the mockery and having the courage of their convictions, often to death in overseas countries. I’m sure many teenage gay people do too.
First of all people choose to follow a faith. Does John think, as Colin Craig does, that people choose to be gay? And is he really saying that is it harder being a teenage Christian than a teenage gay?
And finally John not content with saying that any insecure depressed gay youth just has mental health issues, also claims:
There’s no doubt that many gay teens are harassed and bullied (a study published in the January 2010 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health suggested gay and lesbian teens get bullied two to three times more than their heterosexual peers), and some of them may take their lives because of it. But there’s little evidence that gay teens have a dramatically higher rate of suicide than heterosexual teens.
Really? There is no definitive prevalence rate for gays and lesbians so no definitive suicide rate, but over a hundred studies have found higher rates of suicide attempts. Look at this or this or this list of 100 or so studies.
David Do, who is New Zealand-born and of Chinese-Vietnamese descent, told a parliamentary select committee it was widely – and falsely – assumed that European New Zealanders supported gay marriage while Asian and Pacific communities opposed it.
He said there were many people within immigrant families who wanted to support gay marriage but could not speak out.
“My perspective here is as a young, gay, Asian man,” he told the committee.
“I still cannot be fully honest with who I am with my family. I still have not told my Dad, who I love very much, that I am gay. I do not want to break his heart.”
Unless his Dad doesn’t read the Herald and has no friends who read the Herald, then I suspect that problem may now have been solved!
A teenager opposed to gay marriage has accused select committee members of behaving in a hostile and “menacing” way to submitters who are against a proposed law change for same-sex couples. …
In a press release sent to the Sunday Star-Times, McCoskrie said 18-year-old Grace Carroll was left humiliated, disappointed and frustrated by the experience – and she’s not the only person to have complained.
However, the committee members say all submitters were treated with respect – even if they did roll their eyes at the girl when she began to quote civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr …
Her oral submission is online here. I think it is great an 18 year old takes the time to submit and appear, and this should be encouraged. It is unfortunate she felt she did not get a fair go. However I would make the point that the more provocative the submission, the more of a response you tend to get.
Her appendices are well argued (thought I disagree on the fundamental point that marriage was created by the law of nature and is untouchable).
She said in the middle of her speech, acting chair Chris Auchinvole got up to get a drink, and when she finished her speech with the words of Martin Luther King Jr, Hague was “unsavoury and menacing” to her, calling her homophobic.
“The whole experience was very strange. There was a lack of common courtesy and respect,” she said.
Auchinvole said it was common for committee members to get drinks and go to the toilet during submissions as long as a quorum was maintained and that Carroll had already made a written submission to which she was speaking.
I’ve had MPs grab a drink during my submissions. It means they are thirsty.
The debate on same-sex marriage lacks context because its promoters have failed to take into account the equal rights already established in New Zealand law for same-sex couples.
Everyone remembers the passing of the Civil Unions Act in late 2004 because of the publicity it generated. The Civil Unions Act was followed by a companion Relationships (Statutory References) Act in early 2005 – the Relationships Act. It was passed by Parliament without fanfare and little publicity. It has therefore been missing from this debate because its purpose and legal effects are largely unknown to New Zealanders. Yet it is of crucial importance.
So what did the Relationships Act do? It amended more then 150 acts of Parliament to add, after every reference to “marriage”, the words “civil union and de facto” so there would be a complete and perfect legal equality between marriage, civil unions and heterosexual or homosexual de facto relationships. It means all couples, in any of these relationships, have the same rights under New Zealand law, with the possible exception of the adoption law.
This is a valid argument against same sex marriage. It is not one I agree with but it is a better argument than Colin Craig’s views that people choose to be gay.
Gordon Copeland is a former MP who was in Parliament in 2004-2005 when the Civil Unions and Relationships (Statutory References) Acts were passed. He opposed both.
This is what amuses me. You vote against bills to give same sex couples any legal recognition at all, and then use the fact you were defeated as an argument for why the law is now great and no further changes are needed.
It’s a bit like voting against women getting the vote, and then once you lose that vote arguing women don’t need to be able to stand for Parliament also because they have the vote, and that is what matters.
Labour MP Moana Mackey asked Mr Craig if he still believed, as he said last August, that homosexuality was “a choice”.
“I do,” he said. “It’s a choice influenced by a number of things including genetics.”
This is just nonsense. I think it is perfectly valid to not support same sex marriage. But I do not think it is valid to keep insisting that being homosexual is a choice.
My question back to Colin Craig would be when did he decide to be heterosexual. What age was he? Did he weigh up the pros and cons of heterosexuality vs homosexuality? Did he consult friends over his choice?
You can choose whom you have sex with. But you don’t get to choose whom you are sexually attracted to. I wish we could – would make life much easier!
Crime will rise if gay couples are allowed to marry, says the head of the country’s victim lobby group.
Sensible Sentencing Trust leader Garth McVicar has submitted to Parliament that changing the law to allow same-sex marriage will be yet another erosion of basic morals and values in society which have led to an escalation of child abuse, domestic violence, and an ever-increasing prison population.
Oh dear. Garth is quite entitled to his views on the issue, but linking same sex marriage to child abuse, domestic violence and increasing prison numbers is bizarre – to put it mildly.
People claimed the same thing in 1986 when homosexual law reform occurred. They were wrong. I predict that once same sex marriage is allowed, the only impact on society will be a few more couples will be married.
Ms Wall provided research to the Herald which showed that all of the 11 countries that have legalised gay marriage have outlawed polygamy.
None of the 50 countries that recognised polygamy under civil law formally recognised same-sex relationships.
Ms Wall said that in most cases, polygamy was legal in countries that repressed women, not socially progressive countries like New Zealand.
“You have countries where you can be whipped, fined, flogged, sent to jail for the rest of your life [for being in a gay relationship] so to say that marriage equality is a stepping stone to polygamy completely misrepresents the truth globally.”
I have to agree with Louisa that the countries which have polygamy tend to regard women as chattels and homosexuals as criminals.
I wonder if any of those 50 countries that allow polygamy, allow polygyny (one man married to multiple wives) and polyandry (one woman married to multiple husbands) or just polygyny?
Interestingly NZ law does give some recognition under the Family Proceedings Act to polygamous marriages made overseas, if legal in the country they resided in.
Anyway I personally do not accept the argument that if you support same sex marriage you should support polygamous marriage. I don’t think people have any significant choice over their sexual orientation. I do think people have a choice about the number of people they want to be in a relationship with.
Pensioners are holding out in a dwindling minority opposing gay marriage – as 2013 looks possibly to be the year for it to become reality.
A Herald-DigiPoll survey into same-sex marriages found a stark generational divide: 60 per cent of respondents older than 65 said marriage should remain only between a man and a woman. But 70 per cent of people under 40 said the law should be changed to allow same-sex marriages.
Labour MP Louisa Wall, who is behind the bill to legalise gay marriage, said studies out of universities had found even stronger support among young people, above 80 per cent.
And If you are under 40, you were aged 14 or younger when homosexual law reform occurred in 1986. In 25 years times (or less), same sex marriage will be as uncontroversial as homosexual law reform itself now is.
“For older people, homosexuality was foreign; it meant things like mental illnesses. It was illegal. People could go to jail – so, of course, they can’t relate to it.
“Older New Zealanders wouldn’t have seen two same-sex people who love each other.”
I think this is very true for many. Most people under 40 know several same sex couples and don’t distinguish between those relationships, and their own ones.
Gay marriage would become an increasingly contested fight through 2013 and the Government should not be rushing through the process to avoid it becoming an election issue in 2014, he said.
There is no rushing of process. In fact it is impossible for the Government to rush the process. It is a private members’ bill, and the select committee hearing submissions is chaired by an Opposition MP.
The committee will report to Parliament on February 28, with a second reading scheduled for March 20. A third and final reading could happen in May.
This is the standard timings under Standing Orders. The first reading was 29 August 2012, and the select committee has six months to report back.
I made my appearance at the Govt Admin Select Committee on Wednesday on Louisa Wall’s Marriage Bill. Some good questions from MPs on both sides of the debate. I expressed sympathy for the MPs and staff who received some 20,000 or more submissions on the bill!
I was amused when at the end, Chair Ruth Dyson said “We’ll see you at our next bill”. I actually don’t submit on that many bills – but a lot of them end up on Govt Admin Select Cmte. A lot are Justice & Electoral also. Don’t think I have ever made a submission to the Health Select Committee.
Jetlag does funny thing and I was wide awake in prayer at about 4am one morning in London when the Lord told me that Satan would attack me in Bangkok on the way home.
I had forgotten all about that a couple of days later when I was lying back in 40 degree Celsius heat alongside the swimming pool at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok enjoying the sunshine. A beautiful girl stripped off topless alongside me and covered herself in suntan lotion before diving in for a swim. She was very much in my thoughts about 20 minutes later when I went back to my hotel room for a much needed nap.
Somewhere between the bedroom and the bathroom, I was physically attacked by an invisible spiritual being. I felt I was being strangled but strangely felt very little fear. The Lord’s warning to me in London suddenly flashed into my mind. I realised that I had been attacked by an unseen spiritual being from the realm of Satan. I am no stranger to demons and have many times, in ministering to people, found it necessary to rebuke spiritual beings in the name of Jesus Christ. The problem was that on this occasion I was incapable of speaking since my voice box appeared to be completely choked off. Inwardly, however, my spirit cried out desperately to God, “Help me!” From within the deep resources of my being a wave of the Holy Spirit rose up through my body and seemed to explode up through my throat and my mouth in a song, from my boyhood days of praise to God. I felt the spiritual being which had me in its grip loose me and leave. I was overcome with joy and went on singing my praise to God for several minutes. I didn’t even know that I still knew that particular hymn of praise!
Oddly, I’ve often had Satan attack me also, when I see a beautiful topless girl rubbing oil over herself. Sadly for me, unlike Gordon, Satan has won the fight on these occasions.
I’m not sure what is funnier. The weirdness of their attempted message, or the spelling mistakes. It’s almost like a parody.
Bakshi hoped to convince MPs who earlier voted for gay marriage to change their minds, saying most ethnic MPs opposed gay marriage.
“We understand that God made us and we are firm believers (that) marriage is between a man and woman,” Bakshi told the crowd of around 250. “I tell you, the majority of the National Party MPs voted against this bill. There were only three Labour party MPs who voted against this bill. So you can understand who believes in Christianity, who believes in this bill. It is the National Party.”
Speaking to the Herald on Sunday afterwards, he conceded that most National MPs had, in fact, supported the bill.
Indeed, 30 votes in favour and 29 against.
As Bakshi sat on stage, speaker Alani Taione from the Tonga Development Society berated MPs who supported the bill and referred to the Prime Minister as “John Gay”. “That’s a personal view,” he said afterwards.
Labour’s Ruth Dyson, who chairs the Parliamentary committee, said she had no objection to Bakshi participating in the protest.
Her colleague, Sio, told the crowd many people were not capable of understanding the objections to gay marriage. “Many New Zealanders will say: ‘What’s the big deal?’ You and I don’t necessarily have to defend that, because you and I have a perspective that is perhaps beyond most people’s perspective.”
One can understand an objection, but just not agree with it.
SUBMISSION OF DAVID FARRAR ON THE
MARRIAGE (DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE) AMENDMENT BILL TO THE GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION SELECT COMMITTEE
About the Submitter
This submission is made by David Farrar in a personal capacity. I would like to appear before the Committee to speak to my submission.
While not a detail I would normally include in a submission, I am heterosexual, so have no self-interest in this bill.
I submit in support of the bill proceeding. To quote Dr Paul Hutchison, “I simply cannot construct a strong enough intellectual moral health or even spiritual argument against it … and the reverse is very much the case.” This bill will allow a couple of the same sex to marry each other, which I believe to be good for the couple, good for the institution of marriage, and good for New Zealand. I do support some amendments being made to clarify the impact of this bill on other Acts of Parliament
A same sex couple is of course different to a couple of the opposition gender. But this doesn’t mean that the law should discriminate in not allowing same sex couples to marry. Same sex couples fall in love, commit to each other, form households and raise children – the core of being a family. The law should allow such couples to marry. Why would we want an adult couple desiring marriage to not be able to marry?
Some argue that as a same sex couple can’t produce children naturally, that they should be ineligible to marry. I do not accept this argument as many married couples are infertile, choose not to have children, or have children from past relationships. We don’t ban woman who have reached menopause from marrying, and now should we ban same sex couples.
I think marriage is a wonderful institution, and the benefits of marriage are well documented. I believe allowing a same sex couple to marry, hence committing to each other for life, strengthens the institution of marriage.
I would like to quote three conservative leaders as to why same sex marriage is good for marriage. US Solictor-General (for George W Bush) Theordore Olsen has said “Many of my fellow conservatives have an almost knee-jerk hostility toward gay marriage. This does not make sense, because same-sex unions promote the values conservatives prize.Marriage is one of the basic building blocks of our neighborhoods and our nation. At its best, it is a stable bond between two individuals who work to create a loving household and a social and economic partnership. We encourage couples to marry because the commitments they make to one another provide benefits not only to themselves but also to their families and communities. Marriage requires thinking beyond one’s own needs. It transforms two individuals into a union based on shared aspirations, and in doing so establishes a formal investment in the well-being of society.
The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance. Conservatives should celebrate this, rather than lament it.”
and“I understand, but reject, certain religious teachings that denounce homosexuality as morally wrong, illegitimate, or unnatural; and I take strong exception to those who argue that same-sex relationships should be discouraged by society and law. Science has taught us, even if history has not, that gays and lesbians do not choose to be homosexual any more than the rest of us choose to be heterosexual.
To a very large extent, these characteristics are immutable, like being left-handed. And, while our Constitution guarantees the freedom to exercise our individual religious convictions, it equally prohibits us from forcing our beliefs on others. I do not believe that our society can ever live up to the promise of equality, and the fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, until we stop invidious discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
UK Conservative PM David Cameron: “But for me, leadership on families also means speaking out on marriage. Marriage is not just a piece of paper. It pulls couples together through the ebb and flow of life. It gives children stability. And it says powerful things about what we should value. So yes, we will recognise marriage in the tax system.
But we’re also doing something else. I once stood before a Conservative conference and said it shouldn’t matter whether commitment was between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and another man. You applauded me for that. Five years on, we’re consulting on legalising gay marriage. And to anyone who has reservations, I say: Yes, it’s about equality, but it’s also about something else: commitment. Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other. So I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative.
Former Australian Liberal Party Leader Malcolm Turnbull said “Families are the foundation of our society and I am firmly of the view that that we would be a stronger society if more people were married – and by that I mean formally, legally married – and fewer were divorced. …And I have to say that I am utterly unpersuaded by the proposition that my marriage to Lucy, or indeed any marriage, is undermined by two gay men or two lesbians setting up house down the road – whether it is called a marriage or not.
Regrettably, this aspect of the debate is dripping with the worst sort of hypocrisy, and the deepest pools are all too often found among the most sanctimonious.
Let us be honest with each other. The threat to marriage is not the gays. It is a lack of loving commitment – whether it is found in the form of neglect, indifference, cruelty or adultery, to name just a few manifestations of the loveless desert in which too many marriages come to grief.”
I agree with Messrs. Cameron, Turnbull and Olsen that allowing same sex couples to marry will strengthen the institution of marriage.
Adolescence is a difficult time for many teenagers, and gay/lesbian teenagers especially can find it more challenging than most as they wonder whether there is something “wrong” with them as they are not attracted to the opposite sex like most of their peers are. We see the results of this in the significantly higher levels of suicide amongst gay and lesbian teenagers. The 2007 Auckland University study of around 9,000 secondary school students found 20% of youth attracted to the same (or both) sex attempted suicide in the last year. This is an appallingly high figure.
Knowing that despite their “different” sexual orientation, that one day they can love and marry someone will I think send a very powerful message to young gay and lesbian New Zealanders that there is nothing wrong in being different, and that the Parliament of New Zealand has said so by allowing same sex couples to marry.
One argument against allowing same sex couples to marry is that this goes against the traditional definition of marriage.
This is no surprise. Up until 27 years ago, it was a criminal offence for a homosexual man to even have consensual sex with another adult man. So of course there is no recent tradition of same sex marriage.
If we go back far enough to be very traditional, I would point out that In the 1st century AD Emperor Nero is reported to have married a male slave. Later in 342 AD Emperor Constantius II outlawed same sex marriage with a penalty of execution. This suggests that there were a number of same sex marriages prior to that.
Regardless marriage has in fact changed significantly over time. I follow with some examples.
Traditionally the age of marriage was the onset of puberty. In the 12th century European canon law documented by Gratian allowed marriage from the age of seven onwards, and stayed in force religiously until 1918. In 1689 a nine year old Mary Hathaway was married in the US.
Interracial marriage was banned in the US until the California Supreme Court over-turned this in 1948 and then the US Supreme Court in 1967. The ban was not removed from the Alabama state constitution until the year 2000.
Married couples were prohibited from using contraception in the US until 1965.
Traditionally under English common law, a married woman had no legal identity outside that of her husband, until laws started to change in 1839. It wasn’t until 1981 that a married woman in the US had equal property rights with her husband.
I hope these examples show that the nature of marriage, and the eligibility of two people to marry, has changed over time and I think we would all agree for the better. Tradition should not trump equality.
Religious v Civil Marriage
Some people advocate that ideally the state should not decide who can or can’t marry. That marriage is primarily a religious institution, and that the state should merely register civil unions, and allow couples to get a “blessing of marriage” from a religion should they wish to.
I agree that this would be an ideal situation, respecting the origins of marriage as a religious ceremony. If an MP wishes to put up a bill abolishing marriage as a civil institution, then that would be good, and I would advocate for its passage,
However the reality is that marriage is a state institution in pretty much every country on Earth, and that it is unlikely to ever not be a state institution in New Zealand. While it remains a state institution, I believe it would be wrong to deny the institution of marriage to same sex couples.
PM John Key recently said that in politics you don’t start with a blank slate of paper, you start with the real world. In the real world marriage is a state institution, and rejecting same sex marriage on the basis that the state shouldn’t decide at all who can get married is turning a blind eye to the fact that the state does decide, and is likely to always do so.
It is unclear to me whether this bill as currently worded would allow a married same sex couple to adopt under the Adoption Act 1955. I note a gay or lesbian individual can currently adopt, but not jointly with their partner.
The definition of adoptive parent in s2 of the Adoption Act refers to a husband and a wife. However in s3(2) it refers to “2 spouses jointly” being able to apply for an adoption order. I suspect a court would have to decide which clause takes precedence, which will mean uncertainty.
To remove uncertainty, I propose that this bill be amended with the addition of a clause stating that a married couple should be treated as eligible to jointly adopt under the Adoption Act. Arguably such a clause could be worded to apply to any other Act which refers to married couples, spouses or husbands and wives.
A benefit of having a specific clause amending the Adoption Act is it would allow MPs to vote explicitly on both the issue of same sex marriage and same sex (as a couple) adoption. I would advocate Parliament votes in favour of both.
Some people have expressed a concern that churches could be forced to marry same sex couples in contravention to their religious beliefs. I agree this is undesirable. I do not regard this as likely, and note neither does the Human Rights Commission. To remove doubt, I recommend an explicit clause be inserted to state no religious body, or minister of religion shall be required to perform a marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs, nor provide facilities for such a ceremony unless that facility is available to the general public.
Another concern is that it is an offence under s56 of the Marriage Act to allege that “any persons lawfully married are not truly and sufficiently married” and that this could capture someone saying that a same sex marriage is not in the eyes of their religion a “true” marriage. I recommend the select committee look at amending or repealing s56 to minimize this perceived risk. I note there has never been a prosecution (it appears) under s56, and other laws such as defamation may be sufficient to repeal it safely.
Thank you for considering this submission. I would like to make an oral submission in support, and look forward to appearing.
This letter to the editor warns that if same sex marriage leads to an increase in homosexuality, then ducks could take over the world as they always nest in pairs. Jasmin doesn’t want humans to compete with ducks and warns us that the ducks may get us in the end.
Sadly for Jasmin, I think her homeschooled education may have overly romanticsed the duck. I’d heard somewhere that duck sex often involves rape, but didn’t realise quite how bad ducks are in the sex stakes. I relayed my findings over Twitter last night to both amusement and horror.
Around one third of duck sex is duck rape. And we’re often talking gang rape of ducks when a group of drakes will basically subdue a female duck. Wikipedia says:
When they pair off with mating partners, often one or several drakes end up “left out”. This group sometimes targets an isolated female duck, even one of a different species, and proceeds to chase and peck at her until she weakens, at which point the males take turns copulating with the female.
One site makes the point:
They’ll hump any species, any gender, anytime.
Even worse for Jasmine who implied ducks may evolve further as they don’t do same sex stuff, well one Dutch researcher saw a drake ravage another male’s lifeless duck-corpse for seventy-five minutes.
Male Mallards also occasionally chase other male ducks of a different species, and even each other, in the same way. In one documented case of “homosexual necrophilia”, a male Mallard copulated with another male he was chasing after the chased male died upon flying into a glass window.
Sure he may not have married the dead drake at the end of it, but …
Basically ducks are nasty little creatures. I feel rather guilty for all the times I have fed them.
Interesting rep Todd Akin may have been right about females not getting pregnant if they are raped – if he was talking about ducks.
Some vaginas had spiral channels that would impede sex by twisting in the opposite direction to that of the male phallus. Others had as many as eight cul-de-sac pouches en route, that could prevent fertilisation by capturing unwelcome sperm. Moreover, these features were only found in species renowned for forced sex. All other species had simple male and female genitalia.
“These structures are wonderfully devious, sending sperm down the wrong road or impeding penetration,” says Birkhead.
He says that the features demonstrate an evolutionary “arms race” in which control over reproduction alternates between the sexes. If the male develops a longer, more elaborate phallus to force copulation, females wrest back control by developing features to thwart males who rape.
I will agree with Jasmine that we don’t want to live in a planet ruled by our duck overlords.
Incidentally the duck penis is rather large. In some ducks it can stretch to 40 cm or so, which if they were a human would be a 3.5 metre penis.
Many dolphins are also rapists, and like mallards do either gender.