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March 18, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Ha! Gaaaaay!

Major blow to the heterosexual marriage as bill passes second reading

Heckling, applause and Macklemore quotes saw in the successful Second Reading of the Marriage (Equality) Amendment Bill in Parliament on Wednesday night. The Bill passed its Second Reading with 77 in favour and 44 votes opposed. The Bill must now go through a committee stage, and a third and final reading. 

Labour MP Louisa Wall submitted the Bill on May 30 last year. The Bill seeks to redefine marriage as the “union of two people regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity”. The Bill also clarifies that marriage celebrants don’t have to perform non-heterosexual marriages if it goes against their beliefs. 

Wedding celebrant and National MP Chris Auchinvole said that he had been “internalising a complicated situation” in his heart and head and was all for the Bill. Wall quoted Macklemore’s ‘One Love’:

“And I can’t change, even if I tried, even if I wanted to, I can’t change.” 

Youth representatives from all eight parties represented in Parliament met on Parliament grounds on the March 11 to show their unanimous support for equal marriage.

“This generation will not tolerate any form of discrimination, whether by race, gender or sexual orientation”, said Māori Party kaikorero rangatahi Teaonui Mckenzie.

The Young Conservatives were the one Youth Party not to support the Equal Marriage Bill.

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig likened the difference between civil unions and existing heterosexual marriages to separate toilets for men and women.

“There are grounds to discriminate on certain things. If you said to me, ‘do I think there should be separate toilet facilities when it comes to men and women’, ‘yes I do’”, said Craig.

VUWSA gained a mandate to support the Bill after a Special General Meeting last year.

“This is an issue of civil rights and ending discrimination based solely on gender and sexuality”, said Equity Officer Matthew Ellison. 

Winston Peters suggested that the Bill be voted on by the public in a referendum in the 2014 election, stating that there is “nothing worse than a politician who thinks they know best”. This call is supported by NZ First Youth.

“A referendum is the fairest, most inclusive and democratic method of achieving this. It is our hope that MPs of other parties will realise this and join our call for a referendum,” he said.

During the Second Reading, the members voted against an NZ First amendment proposing a referendum, with 83 votes against and 33 votes for.

National MP Tau Henare accused Winston Peters and his fellow National Party members of stalling and general bad behaviour in relation to the bill, saying he was “appalled” at their behaviour, accusing members of “outright not telling the truth”.

He went on to say that he disliked his colleagues’ attempts to get him to oppose the Bill and back a referendum, much to Labour’s delight.

“If I was to believe them then why aren’t we having a referendum on asset sales?” quipped Henare.

The next step is a Committee of the Whole House, where members will vote on the Bill clause by clause, and further amendments can be submitted by members for voting. After this has been completed, the Bill will go through its final reading, a date for which is uncertain.

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  1. LawstudentJohn316 says:

    Your article stated that: “The Bill also clarifies that marriage celebrants don’t have to perform non-heterosexual marriages if it goes against their beliefs.” However, if this statute is giving gay couples the right to marry, other legislation in NZ that precludes unequal treatment or discrimination, for example, the Bill of Rights Act, could be interpreted in a way which would expose churches that opt not to marry gay couples to lawsuits. If this is the case, it is doubtful that this so-called clarification in the Marriage Amendment Act can override the expressed provisions of earlier anti-discrimination laws. If this law is passed, NZ churches may have less freedom than they realise. Indeed, in some countries in the world that have allowed gay marriage, churches have ceased marrying heterosexual couples as they cannot do so without agreeing to marry gay couples. In any event, gay couples already have the possibility of civil union partnerships being registered, in many respects gay couples have many rights. Is this just about being able to call these unions “marriages”? If so, why does the State need to sanction or give a stamp of approval on these unions? If marriage is about love, isn’t it enough that gay couples already consider and refer to their civil union partner as their “husband” and “wife”?

    • fluffycatsdad says:

      Sorry, dude, but churches can already refuse to perform marriages between straight people if the minister in question isn’t 100% convinced the couple will go the distance, so why should broadening the spectrum of those eligible for marriage change this? Come to think of it, why do so many New Zealanders think that anyone – no matter gay, straight, or bi – would WANT to be married by someone who doesn’t want to perform the ceremony? Come on!

      Finally, civil unions do NOT offer the same legal protection as marriage. First off, there’s no automatic right of survival, meaning that if one civil union partner dies, the other one has no claim on their home or belongings. Civil unions aren’t recognised in all overseas countries, whereas marriage is, and finally, couples in a civil union can’t adopt children together. You say that gay couples have ‘many rights'; can you tell me why they shouldn’t have EQUAL rights?

    • CalumB says:

      LawstudentJohn316 is as sadly mistaken as the Conservatives, New Zealand First, and other opponents to equality.

      Let me say first off, I do not like marriage. It was specifically designed around property ownership, from a time that even women were considered property. Personally, I would completely do away with it.

      However, the Marriage Act stands as part of NZ law. Even if I am against marriage, and would never myself marry, I would not try to prevent others from marrying the person they wish, unlike others (of which LawstudentJohn316 seems to be a prime example).

      Also LawstudentJohn316 mistakes the law. Because of the way the special right to an exemption stands, there can be no claim through NZBORA to force a minister, priest, pastor or other purveyor or seller of religion to marry a couple they did not want to. If the claims of LawstudentJohn316 then an anglican could force a mosque to marry them, or a moslem could force a synagogue to marry them. This cannot happen because of the way the law is written and the exemption applied.

      This exemption is a special right applied to churches. Yet the fundamentalist churches have long cried, when it comes to LGBT issues, no special rights. Yet here they are, asking for special rights. Perhaps they should take another look at their little book of rules and see what it says about that. This atheist suggests they look at Matthew 23. Other have similar misgivings around people who act like that.

      Yes, and why should human rights be put up for popular vote? if the rights of people should be put up for popular vote, then all legislation affecting the rights of people should be put up for popular vote, such as, but not limited to, the budget, welfare reforms, education reforms, and, as Tau Henare points out, asset sales.

  2. Genesis 2:24 says:

    If there are outstanding legal issues with civil unions they should be sorted out for civil unions rather than redefine marriage. The reason being is that in the Judeo-Christian tradition marriage is a God instituted concept rather than a legal one of state and property. To not honor the churches opinion in this matter would also indicate a lack of honoring their much touted principle of the separation of church and state. Is the government trying to say “We have heard a message from God, He said ‘Gay Marriage'”? Yes,I think that for legal matters equal rights is a good rule of thumb. This however crosses the line into religious matters where rather than insisting on rights there is a reliance on grace. To many this is a foreign concept but try to complete the following sentence. I am allowed to go to heaven because_________________. Now if you have completed that sentence with anything other than what someone else has done for you according to many Christians (labeled fundamentalist or not) you are speaking nonsense. Irrespective of you sexual preference try the next sentence. I am allowed get married because_______________.

    @Fluffy I am pretty sure many of those same countries would not recognize gay marriage

    @Fluffy & Calum B Can you also guarantee that marriage celebrants or their congregations unwilling to marry gay people will not be pressured to hire their corprately bought and paid for halls of worship out for that very purpose?

    @Calum B Putting everything to the vote would be democratic would it not?

  3. Syd Drew Card says:

    Genesis,

    “the Judeo-Christian tradition marriage is a God instituted concept rather than a legal one of state and property.”

    Marriage under the law is, as you acknowledge, quite a different thing than the Judeo-Chrstian idea of marriage—and has been for quite some time. Just consider the proportion of couples being married in secular ceremonies.

    Simple.

    The same-sex marriage debate is about marriage under the law. It is not about the Judeo-Christian version of marriage.

    As you acknowledge, this Christian marriage is not a legal concept, so what the law says about the legal version of marriage won’t do anything to Christian marriage. And surely, what matters in the eyes of the Lord is not the approval of the law but the union and love of the two people according to Christian ceremony. Whatever the law says about it will not change that.

    So what’s the problem?

  4. Genesis 2:24 says:

    The advantage of a civil union is that it recognizes that there are belief systems that already have a definition of marriage. Unfortunately It is called the “marriage redefinition bill” rather than the “legal rights associated with lifelong partnership bill”. Fixing the legal difficulties in a civil union would be easier with less emotively loaded issues than saying that want to redefine something that has other meanings to others. The main reason you go to a wedding (of any faith) is a social and religious ceremony not a transaction of legal rights. Yes, There is a separation between the legal rights associated with a sexual partnership and a marriage of faith. The concern I have is that that separation is getting more and more blurred, overlooked and ignored. Although the bill may contain some good legal choices, the way in which it has been presented has caused unnecessary angst, and has broken previous promises offered by politicians.

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