Nikki Kaye’s marriage equality bill speech

Amongst some excellent speeches on the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill was this from Nikki Kaye.

Video: Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill – First Reading – Part 2

Transcript (draft):


First Reading

NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central):

I am pleased to support the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill . Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

I want to congratulate Louisa Wall on bringing this bill to the House. Today is an important day for New Zealand, because I hope that we are on the cusp of passing a piece of legislation that will strengthen the rights and freedoms of a significant group of New Zealanders.

In this House there is huge diversity. We were born in places across New Zealand—from Takapuna to Ruatōria to villages in Samoa. We have MPs of different ethnicities—Samoan, Korean, Chinese, Pākehā, and many more. We have MPs of different faiths—Muslim to Sikh to Christian. We are a House of Representatives. We reflect the diversity of New Zealand, and our families are all so different.

What binds us together is a shared sense of justice, fairness, and a heartfelt belief in this amazing democratic, hard-working country. My grandfather fought for our freedom, as did many members’ relatives, in this House.

Ronald Reagan once said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same”. New Zealand has a proud history of leading in issues of equality.

This bill, in my view, is about justice and the basic right of every New Zealander to have equality before the law.

Civil unions gave us a step forward in that it conferred many rights to New Zealanders who had been deprived of them in the past. However, it did not guarantee every New Zealander the ability to marry the person they love. It did not guarantee an equality of status relationship.

I go further and say that this bill not only confers on every New Zealander an equality before the law in terms of their relationship but gives a dignity and an acceptance to a group of New Zealanders who not long ago were criminalised for the people they love.

I stand before you today as a member of the National Party. As the National Party, we have a strong history of bringing together different groups of New Zealanders.

Recently, the Prime Minister commented on the founders of the National Party. He said: “… they thought that the individual freedom promoted by National involved many diverse groups with conflicting interests. Tolerance was the key to working through those conflicts—giving everyone a say, but ensuring the Party ultimately focused on the good of the country as a whole.”

That is why I accept that being a champion of freedom is also about accepting that others may hold strong opposing views and that they have the right to voice and exercise those views in this House.

We may vote differently on this side of the House on conscience issues, but we are bound by equality of opportunity. We are a party that has always treasured freedom of choice. We are a party that is often regarded as the unwelcome hand of the nanny State reaching into the homes of many New Zealand families.

It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge some of the people and the liberal members in the past who have fought on this side of the House for freedom. Venn Young proposed the first attempt at homosexual law reform, Marilyn Waring dedicated her time in Parliament and her academic career to issues of equality, and the Rt Hon Jenny Shipley proposed and helped pass the human rights legislation.

I also stand before you today as the member for Auckland Central. I represent the wonderful suburbs of Grey Lynn, Ponsonby, and Rocky Bay, and a huge lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

But at a personal level, regardless of the fact that I am a member of the National Party and the member for Auckland Central, I support this bill because I actually believe it is the right thing to do. I know the arguments in opposition.

I do not believe that tradition is a good reason to block same-sex couples from the ability to marry. If we had accepted in this House the arguments of tradition, then women would have never got the vote, and women would not be sitting in this Chamber this evening. In terms of religion, there will be ministers and people of different faiths supporting the bill and some who oppose it.

Some have raised issues of religious freedom, and I believe that those issues can be worked through at the select committee.

I know how important this bill is for many young New Zealanders. Young New Zealanders overwhelmingly support this bill.

When I look to the future of this country and the many people who will come after us in this House, I believe that if this legislation does not pass today, it will eventually pass. I meet young New Zealanders every day who are very diverse. They are more diverse than their previous generation. They have a high level of tolerance and respect for people’s differences. They do not shun those differences; in fact, they celebrate them.

I stand here as a New Zealander with eight siblings. I have had lots of parents; several step-parents . I have a mother who has a boyfriend of 25 years and I have a father who has had several marriages. Dad, I think you have used my quota!

The point that I make is that New Zealand family structures are very diverse, and a major reason that I support this bill is that I want every New Zealander to have—and I cannot deny any New Zealander—the ability to marry the person they love.

I stand here as a New Zealander who believes not just in equality of the law but also as someone who has seen people prejudiced and teased in the broad light of day in this country.

I have seen the subtle prejudice: the people who say that their partners are not invited to work functions, the people who feel uncomfortable holding hands walking down the street, and the people who may not be invited to the family Christmas. I see it through my electorate office. I see it in the street.

The prevention of prejudice is not just the role of parliamentarians in this House. Our country would be a lot stronger if we all practised the values of greater tolerance, respect, understanding, and compassion for fellow New Zealanders.

I have met through my office people who are scared to come out to their friends, their families, their colleagues, and their community.

In fact, the saddest result of prejudice that I have seen has been—and is reflected in—the high number of youth lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender suicides. Some of these people have taken their lives because they cannot see themselves as being accepted. They cannot see themselves being happy.

This Parliament has an opportunity through legislation to help change that. I will vote for marriage equality so that every New Zealander can marry the person who they want to love.

This bill enshrines a principle that society supports loving and committed relationships between two people. In all of the over 10,000 constituency queries that I have had, I have never had anyone who has said that they want to be married to more than one person.

As a legislator, I support New Zealand having laws that recognise the value of two people making a commitment to each other in law. My idea of strong family policies is initiatives that support the well-being of children and education and health, and that enable two committed people to be in a relationship and have that recognised in law.

That is why I believe that the institution of marriage can actually be strengthened by enabling more people to marry. I want to acknowledge some people who have been on this road and have fought for freedom within our party.

I want to acknowledge Sean Topham, Shaun Wallis, and Megan Campbell. I want to acknowledge Tau Henare. Kia ora, Tau.

I am pleased to support this marriage equality bill in the House, because I believe that this bill is fundamentally about justice, freedom, and equality of opportunity. It is actually a reason why I am a member of the National Party. Our country, in my view, will be a much better place for enabling every New Zealander to walk with a little more freedom this evening.

I commend this bill to the House.


Leave a comment


  1. Darryl

     /  30th August 2012

    Winston Peters gets my vote. He spoke for the People of this country. Referendum please.

  2. Winston is a jolly big troublemaker not a politician. Politicians are meant to be productive.

    • Darryl

       /  30th August 2012

      Monique, you can think what you like. What I have noticed is how nasty a lot of you people are. I stand by Winston Peters, you don’t like him, because he is telling the truth. Referendum please. That is the most democratic way to deal with this Bill.

  3. Captain Obvious

     /  30th August 2012

    Darryl, a referendum would be the most democratic way to deal with ANY bill. But that is rediculous, it would be too expensive and time consuming. That’s why we elect representatives. Peters is pandering to the grey brigade again. His only value is his own political survival.

    • Darryl

       /  31st August 2012

      Captain Obvious, I hear you. But don’t tell me that Winston Peters is the only MP, who panders to the mobs. I agree wholeheartedly with him this time. He did the right thing not
      voting for this Bill, and what he says is absolutely right. By the way the Grey Brigade as you so eloquently put it, are much wiser than most, they look at the principals, and not the fashion trend. I am speaking for a great number of people from all ages. It is obvious that a referendum would deliver a completely different outcome.

      • Darryl, I don’t think it’s obvious a referendum would deliver a “completely different outcome”. Many polls have indicated support is in similar proportions to the parliamentary vote.

        Referenda are important for some things, but they are far too slow and expensive for most business that parliament has to deal with. That’s why the representative democracy model is so widely used and referenda are so limited in use.


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