Still husband and wife, not just spouses

March 1st, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

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.

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Marriage Bill reported back

February 27th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Government Administration Select Committee has reported back Louisa Wall’s Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill.

The changes to the bill are:

  • 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.

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Another reason to support same sex marriage

February 22nd, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

CollegeHumor’s Favorite Funny Videos

Very funny – and probably true.

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Craig says he would vote for gay marriage if electorate backs it

February 20th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Isaac Davidson at NZ Herald reports:

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.

Really? Honestly?

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?

I doubt it.

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UK Parliament votes 400 – 175 for same sex marriage

February 6th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The United Kingdom Parliament has voted 400 to 175 in favour of same sex marriage. The exact breakdown by party is not know but it looks like Conservative MPs were roughly equally for and against.

The vote proportion is quite similar to NZ. We had the first reading pass by a 2:1 majority and National split almost 50/50 with 30 in favour and 29 against.

Some quotes:

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’.”

Heh.

The vote details are sill sketchy, but it looks like the breakdown is:

  • Conservatives – 126 for, 134 against, 5 abstain
  • Labour – 217 for
  • Lib Dems – 44 for, 4 against, 7 no vote
  • Plaid Cymru – 3 for
  • Greens – 1 for
  • Democratic Unionists – 8 against

 

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A callous post

February 2nd, 2013 at 10:06 am by David Farrar

John Stringer at CoNZervative blogs:

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.

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Hope his Dad doesn’t read the Herald!

February 1st, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Isaac Davidson at NZ Herald reports:

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!

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A young submitter

January 28th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Kirsty Johnston at Stuff reports:

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.

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Copeland on same sex marriage

January 25th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Gordon Copeland writes in the Dom Post:

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.

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Not a choice

January 23rd, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Simon Collins at NZ Herald reports:

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!

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Oh dear

January 20th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Kirsty Johnston at Stuff reports:

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.

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Polygamy and same sex marriage

January 10th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

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.

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Marriage and Death

January 6th, 2013 at 8:31 am by David Farrar

The HoS publishes a Key Research poll:

POLL

Do you think that same-sex civil unions should be extended to marriage?
• Yes 53.9%
• No 38.1%
• Unsure 8%

Do you think doctors should be allowed by law to end an incurable patient’s life, if the patient requests it?
• Yes 60.5%
• No 18.2%
• Depends on situation 16.2%
• Unsure 5.1%

A very low level of outright opposition to the euthanasia proposition.

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The age divide on same sex marriage

December 27th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Michael Dickison at NZ Herald reports:

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.

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A recreational function

November 24th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Heh, I had to laugh at this quote from National MP Chris Auchinvole on the Marriage Bill:

National MP Chris Auchinvole said he understood the importance of pro-creation but could not see how gay marriage was a threat to that.

”Sexual activity is a recreational and emotional function as well as just procreation,” he said.

A very polite way of saying sex is damn enjoyable :-)

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Same sex marriage submissions

November 16th, 2012 at 2:52 pm by David Farrar

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.

Gordon Copeland also appeared and made some headlines with his views on how allowing same sex marriage is like apartheid. For those who enjoy the views of Gordon, I am happy to link to my 2008 blog which quotes wonderful extracts from his autobiography. The highlight is Chapter 12:

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.

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At least spell it right!

October 28th, 2012 at 11:58 am by David Farrar

Photo by Jason Dorday/HoS

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.

Oh dear.

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.

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Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill Submission

October 24th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

SUBMISSION OF DAVID FARRAR ON THE
MARRIAGE (DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE) AMENDMENT BILL TO THE GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION SELECT COMMITTEE

 

About the Submitter

  1. This submission is made by David Farrar in a personal capacity. I would like to appear before the Committee to speak to my submission.
  2. While not a detail I would normally include in a submission, I am heterosexual, so have no self-interest in this bill.

Overall Bill

  1. 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

Equality

  1. 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?
  2. 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.

Strengthening Marriage

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.”

  5. I agree with Messrs. Cameron, Turnbull and Olsen that allowing same sex couples to marry will strengthen the institution of marriage.

Welcoming diversity

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Tradition

  1. One argument against allowing same sex couples to marry is that this goes against the traditional definition of marriage.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Regardless marriage has in fact changed significantly over time. I follow with some examples.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Married couples were prohibited from using contraception in the US until 1965.
  8. 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.
  9. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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,
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Amendments

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

 

David Farrar

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The ducks will get you in the end

October 4th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

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.

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Marriage in Tasmania

September 28th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

TVNZ reports:

Same-sex marriage advocates in Australia say the fight is far from over after Tasmania’s go-it-alone bill failed in the state’s upper house.

Tasmania’s 15-member Legislative Council voted down the bill 8-6 on Thursday night.

In August, it had become the first such bill to be passed in an Australian lower house.  

This must make Tasmania a bit special as the only state where brothers and sisters can marry each other, but not same sex couples!

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Well motivated but wrong

September 22nd, 2012 at 11:38 am by David Farrar

NZ Herald reports:

Current and former students have thrown their support in behind a Northland Catholic school teacher who was fired after he supported a gay rights protest.

Nigel Studdart was dismissed from Pompallier Catholic College in Whangarei on Tuesday evening after a four-hour meeting with the school’s Board of Trustees.

Last month the school’s principal Richard Stanton wrote comments in the school newsletter opposing The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, which passed its first reading in Parliament.

Mr Studdart was then suspended for supporting a protest at the school which involved students wearing rainbow ribbons or armbands to show their support for gay marriage.

I think the principal was unwise to write comments on a non-educational issue on the school newsletter. And good on the students for expressing their views via a protest.

But Mr Studdart was wrong to join and support that protest. He is a teacher, employed by the Principal. He could have told the principal directly he thought his column was wrong. He could have lobbied colleagues to support him. He could have written to the Board.

But you can’t have a teacher take part in a protest action against the principal. Few schools would allow it.

It is a huge shame, what has happened. It is clear Nigel Studdart was a popular and effective teacher, who cares deeply for his students. Hopefully he will be employed elsewhere. But he did make a serious error of judgement in supporting a student protest against the principal.

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Colin Craig says Kiwis will flee to Australia to escape gay married couples

September 20th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Colin Craig has proclaimed:

Colin Craig, Leader of the Conservative Party has responded to yesterday’s vote by the Australian Parliament that overwhelmingly quashed their gay marriage bill.

Mr Craig says “Once again Australia has made the smart decision by refusing to make unnecessary and detrimental changes to the definition of marriage. This is another example of Aussies showing us how to do it, and will further support the trend of New Zealanders leaving for Australia.”

He actually put this in a press release? Wow, does he need a better press secretary.

Lyndon Hood tweeted:

People leaving NZ because they can’t stand the idea of homosexuals marrying each other. Colin Craig says a risk; I say a bonus.

I’m with Lyndon on that one. Personally I doubt a single person will swap countries because of how Australia and NZ voted on same sex marriage. Anyway, Australia will I am sure vote the same way within a decade.

The Labor MPs who voted against include Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan. The vote was 42 in favour and 98 against. 38 Labor MPs voted for it, and 33 voted against or did not vote.

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Defending Banksie

August 31st, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Guy McCallum blogs:

There are politicians in this world who clearly just don’t get it. It is not always because they are incompetent or corrupt, though we can pronounce these two conditions as leading causes. No, I think it is chiefly because they are scared witless by the fact that they know they have lost touch. And so much do they value their own hides that they won’t admit it, and sadly, won’t admit to the change of heart they know is necessary.

This week, and in particular, we have learned that this is not John Banks. He changed his mind on marriage equality (and by all accounts, over time), and while he might have been seen to be uncomfortable about it in front of the camera, he was most certainly undaunted by the prospect of others seeing his change of heart.

Along comes Duncan Garner of 3 News to ruin what was for a lot of people, a moment in history. He, in my view, unfairly criticised Banks for his position on marriage equality, which seemed to surprise people. Then Garner, holding onto the past with a death grip, wouldn’t let us forget the unfortunate comments that Banks had made a substantial amount of time ago, without a much deserved context.

Garner then questioned whether Banks was a joke, for doing something as heroic as changing one’s mind, in extending legal rights to a section of society that has long deserved them.

One must wonder why gutless politicians won’t ever admit they’ve changed their minds for the good. They do so, apparently, at their own peril.

Instead, they prefer the slow death of seeming evermore out of touch and on the way out to the hard questions they might get if they were just honest. Just look at the People’s Phil Goff who could not steel himself to admit that he was once a neo-liberal, while he crusaded about as Labour’s social democrat. If he had the courage to say he’d changed his mind, maybe he’d still be in the front row of the opposition benches.

My mission in writing this is point out why Garner got it wrong. I think the emotive inclinations that so many in his profession give into, led him astray. For changing his mind, Garner seemed unwilling to forgive whatever it was that Banks must have done to him. In doing so, Garner teaches us a rather valid lesson here – that a grudge can work its mischief upon its master if should they overlook the rational thinking processes that almost everybody has.

John voted for marriage equality because it was the right thing to do. He has very little to explain in this regard. Though, as I write this, there are politicians who voted against marriage equality, now frantic about what they should do next to avoid being lumped in with crazy Colin Craig. Wondering, that is, how to explain their failure to act with courage to those who expected more of them.

Doing something because it is right requires tremendous strength of mind (endurance I would say) which is not easy to find. Its the high road and the narrow path. On the other hand, being negative about someone’s change of heart under these conditions is too easy, and something easy as such is cheap as well.

I wish that every member of Parliament would have the same courage that John Banks and those others put on display, for whom voting in favour of marriage equality was an intrepid but rewarding journey.

I was thrilled when I heard that John was voting for marriage equality, which was a few days before the decision was made public. I know he thought long and hard about his vote, and talked the issues through with a lot of his friends – as Paul Hutchison did also.

The comments John Banks made in 1986 will always remain on the record. But his views have changed over time – this is not a sudden about-face, but a journey.

When John was an MP in the 1990s, one of the researchers who was a reasonably good mate of his was Paul Sherriff. Paul happened to also win Mr Gay Wellington. Now I’m not arguing the “he has black friends so is not racist” card, but am pointing out that even in the 1990s his views were not the same as in 1986. Also he could seperate out his views on the issue, from how he treats individuals.

When he was Mayor of Auckland, his Chief of Staff was Stephen Rainbow. This is a job appointed by the Mayor himself. Stephen is gay, and John and Stephen had an excellent friendship and working relationship. Through Stephen, he saw a couple in a loving stable and happy same sex relationship.

Without that exposure to a loving stable same sex relationship, it is possible John may have never voted for the first reading of Louisa Wall’s bill. Our experiences help shape us.

As I said in the Listener profile, I was anti homosexual law reform when I was a 17 year old at school. It was the experiences and friendships that I developed at university that caused my views to shift quite radically on that issue. I believe it is a good thing when views genuinely change over time – something to be celebrated not ridiculed.

Now I am not suggesting today that John’s views are in any way the same as mine on social and moral issues. What I am saying is that I do believe he accepted the case that allowing a loving same sex couple to marry, is actually good for the institution of marriage.

I salute him for his vote (though I do wish he had articulated his reasons publicly) on both bills this week.

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How they voted details

August 30th, 2012 at 6:40 am by David Farrar

For media and others who are interested in a breakdown by the numbers, here they are:

  • All MPs 80 – 40
  • Electorate MPs 45 – 25
  • List MPs 35 – 15 (1 non vote)
  • Female MPs 32 – 7
  • Male MPs 48 – 33 (1 non vote)
  • Asian MPs 1-3 (1 non vote)
  • European MPs 60 – 29
  • Maori MPs 17 – 4
  • Pacific MPs 2 – 4
  • 20s MPs – 2-0
  • 30s MPs 11 – 2
  • 40s MPs 20 – 18
  • 50s MPs 34 – 13 (1 non vote)
  • 60s MPs 12 – 7
  • 70s MPs 1-0
  • Auckland MPs 29 – 12 (1 non vote)
  • Christchurch MPs  11 – 2
  • Provincial MPs 10 – 12
  • Rural MPs 16 – 12
  • Wellington MPs 14 – 2
  • North Island MPs 58 – 32 (1 non vote)
  • South Island MPs 22 – 8
  • National MPs 30-29
  • Labour MPs 30-3 (1 non vote)
  • Green MPs 14-0
  • NZ First MPs 0-8
  • Maori Party MPs 3-0
  • Mana, ACT, United all 1-0
  • Cabinet Ministers 14-6
  • All Ministers 20-8
  • Gay MPs 3-1
  • Lesbian MPs 3-0
  • “Straight” MPs 74 – 39 (1 non vote)
  • 1970s MPs 0-1
  • 1980s MPs 7-1
  • 1990s MPs 11-9
  • 2002 MPs 5-1
  • 2005 MPs 18 – 6
  • 2008 MPs 22 – 11 (1 non vote)
  • 2011 MPs 16 – 11

A few interesting facts stand out.

  • Female MPs voted 4-1 in favour and Male MPs around 3-2 in favour
  • MPs in their 40s more against than those in their 50s or 60s
  • In the three main cities it was 54 – 16 in favour – more than 3:1
  • Provincial MPs were overall against, but rural MPs were in favour
  • 1 gay MP voted against (on grounds that the state should register unions, and churches, mosques etc confer marriage)
  • MPs who entered in the 1990s were most against

Now let’s look at changes in votes over time

  • John Bank and Lockwood Smith voted against decriminalising homosexual behaviour in 1986 but in 2012 voted in favour of same sex marriage. Winston Peters voted against in 1986 and in 2012. Peter Dunne, Phil Goff, Annette King, Trevor Mallard voted yes both times.
  • MPs who voted against civil unions and for same sex marriage are Gerry Brownlee, David Carter, Judith Collins, Clayton Cosgrove, Peter Dunne, Paul Hutchison, John Key, Murray McCully, Lockwood Smith, Tariana Turia, Maurice Williamson

Wasn’t planning to comment in detail on the speeches, except to note as often with conscience issues it is Parliament at its finest – MPs speaking from the heart on what they believe. Hunua MP Paul Hutchison spoke of his issues and concerns but concluded saying:

Although I would have personally preferred a slower process regarding this legislation as I said earlier, I simply cannot construct an intellectual, moral, health, or spiritual argument against it—in fact the reverse is very much the case. I support it.

You could tell this was an issue he had grappled with, and spent a long time considering.

Anyway, vote over on this issue (for now). The vote/s on the alcohol purchase age will be at 5.30 pm tonight!

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How they voted

August 29th, 2012 at 9:39 pm by David Farrar

The marriage equality bill passed by a huge 78 – 40 80 – 40. The voting sheets are below. An analaysis by party will follow later.

SKMBT_C253-12082921310

Now analysed by party. I understand Banks and Dunne did do proxy votes in favour which have now been accepted or are likely to be. Counting those, the voting stats are:

  • National 30-29
  • Labour 30-3 (1 not vote – Raymond Huo)
  • Greens 14-0
  • NZ First 0-8
  • Maori 3-0
  • Mana 1-0
  • ACT 1-0
  • United Future 1-0
  • Total 80-40 (1 non vote)
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