The marriage equality (gay marriage) bill will be introduced to parliament tonight. It is expected to pass the first vote and proceed to committee stage.
NZ Herald count 64 votes for the bill in an oddly titled More MPs opposing gay marriage.
New Zealand for Marriage Equality have their count at 65:
Undecided and Unknown votes are likely to be mostly against but with 61 votes required this looks like a pro vote victory.
Recent (and current online) polls are about two thirds in favour of the bill and/or marriage equality. Younger demographics are more supportive.
Marriage is a cultural statement. Registry or “civil” marriages long ago removed marriage from the exclusively spiritual realm. Churches retain under this bill the right to solemnise, or to decline to bestow, the sacred nature of marriage as they see it. That is how it should be. Yet it is clear that homosexuals, like heterosexuals, want more than the commitment provided by a civil union contract.
Previously, society has hesitated to go that far. Now, it appears a majority of people are happy for those of the same sex to have their love and commitment recognised by the term marriage, with all the rights, meanings and obligations that entails. Clearly the old institution has some life left in it.
Same sex marriage is not an issue of equality nor the success of any couple’s marriage. It is not about the value or validity of homosexuality. The issue is about the link between the state and marriage in civil society. Who decides what marriage is and what it’s for?
If the state defines marriage the family is no longer an independent institution of civil society declaring daily to the state its limitations. While we are a long way from Stalinism in New Zealand this was the kind of power Stalin wanted.
Waikato Times: Irony flows thick and fast on ‘issue’ of gay marriage
Easily the most colourful commentary on the whole issue has come via a rainbow. Taking a leaf from Rob Muldoon’s book but then inverting it, Dr Stephen Rainbow has argued that if we legalise gay marriage it will in effect improve the sexualities of both New Zealand and Australia.
Ex-pat homosexuals and Australian queers alike will come flooding across the Tasman, transforming Auckland and by extension the country into a paradise of tolerance and economic innovation.
As fantasies go this is certainly a more credible scenario than having a world of exclusively heterosexual couples, each with 2.5 children, all insanely happy and waiting for Judgement Day.
There is confusion over whether NZ First will abstain or vote against. From the Herald article:
New Zealand First was giving mixed messages about its voting intentions. But MP Brendan Horan suggested the party would oppose, not abstain.
“If there’s a referendum in the bill, we’ll support it. If not, I won’t,” he said.
But there are mixed messages:
And it seems some game playing:
Media speculate all by themselves that NZ First might abstain, then appear perturbed that we won’t confirm or deny
You might very well think so. I couldn’t possibly comment
And that’s right, we won’t be voting for it.
Our vote will reflect our position that a referendum is the most desirable outcome
Fear not, we know precisely what we will be doing
That sounds like standard Winston Peters inspired attention seeking. At this stage of the bill it doesn’t look like it will matter.