Marriage bill polls and Family First

Family First commissioned a poll and are now making claims based on the results, but the polls are not directly comparable, and Bob McCoskrie is making highly disputable claims like “Support steadily dropped” and “no discrimination in the law currently”.

Colmar Brunton May 2012
In New Zealand same-sex couples can enter into a Civil Union, but they are not able to get married. Do you think same-sex couples should be able to get married?

  • Yes: 63%
  • No: 31%
  • Don’t know: 5%
  • Prefer not to say: 1%

Herald Digipoll question published Dec 27, 2012
“Which of these statements best fits your views about marriage law: 1) It should remain only between a man and a woman (37.5%), 2) It should be changed to allow it between same-sex couples (59.3%)

Herald on Sunday January 6 2013
Do you think that same-sex civil unions should be extended to marriage?

  •   Yes 53.9%
  •   No 38.1%
  •   Unsure 8%

Family First (Curia) February 2013
In 2004, Parliament legislated to allow same sex couples to register a civil union,
amending over 150 pieces of legislation to give legal rights and recognition to same-sex
couples. Do you think Parliament should change the definition of marriage to allow
same-sex couples to marry, or do you think civil unions are sufficient for same sex

  • Change marriage to allow same sex marriage 47%
  • Civil unions are sufficient 43%
  • Unsure/refuse 10%

The first two polls are fairly neutrally worded.
The third poll isn’t definitive, for example “Do you think that same-sex civil unions should be extended to marriage?” could be answered know if you though marriage should be scrapped and everyone have the civil union option equally.

The Family First ‘question’ is a statement that is as loaded as hell and can’t be compared to the others.

The support for Labour MP Louisa Wall’s bill has steadily dropped. Bob McCoskrie said, “We have got past the slogans of ‘marriage equality’ and ‘discrimination’ and the debate is now centered around the real purpose and role of marriage and the fact that there is actually no discrimination in the law currently,”

There is nothing in these polls that refers to support for Louisa Wall’s bill so the “steadily dropped” claim is nonsense, and “actually no discrimination in the law currently,” is false.

Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill is currently going through Parliament. The first MP vote was strongly in support of it. Some groups are trying to have a referendum on the issue but there are no plans for that.


  1. Andrew

     /  February 26, 2013

    I design survey questions for a living, including questions for a political poll as well as other surveys. It is exceptionally difficult (maybe not even possible) to write a question that people on both sides of an issue think is neutral.

    To make things even more difficult, the researcher will occasionally have a client who wants a question to be asked in a particular way. This happens fairly rarely – when it does I always try to talk my clients through the pros and cons of different wordings and response formats – because, after all, that’s what they are paying me for. In the end though the decision is up to the client. I can’t think of a time when I’ve actually had to refuse to put a question in a survey.

    What’s really important, in my view, is transparency over exactly what has been asked, and the research methodology. Then at least people can form their own view. From what I can see, all of the above questions tick the transparency box for me. In fact, the results are actually very interesting because some questions deal with different aspects of the same issue.

  2. Brown

     /  February 26, 2013

    Without asking the citizenship and listening we don’t know jack shit about this change. Its going to happen because most MP’s want it because gay activists want it and because most NZr’s don’t really care about it. The squeaking wheel gets the lube.

    Bob has a strong opinion as is his right – no one has to agree with it or his analysis. In that vein I don’t agree that the Fam First question is loaded – it justs asks a question and states a fact(?). Given their position would you expect it to not have a flavour of “concern”. The others are likewise arguably flavoured as “no concern” by taking a simpler approach. Whoop de do. Its going to happen, not eveyone will like it but most will respect it on the basis its legal. Even the liberals are not so stupid as to presently legislate all will have to like it but maybe that’s next. It will be interesting to see what happens when a church declines to marry a gay couple. Oh the humanity!

    • There’s nothing in the bill that makes a church marry anyone they don’t want to, that’s nothing new, I remember strict requirements to get married in a Catholic Church in the 80s.

      If you want to get married you find a church or celebrant that suits you and will take on the job. It would be very odd to expect an unwilling church/celebrant to be criticised, you just find someone suitable and willing.

  3. Andrew

     /  February 26, 2013

    Brown, I think Pete is saying that we really can’t say there has been any change. It’s really just four different results for four different questions.

  4. Brown

     /  February 27, 2013

    Change sneaks up on us. I’d take a bet that within , say, 15 years there will be legislation requiring mainstream denominations and celebrants to marry anyone that wants it. That will be because the gay activists will insist on the right to get married where and by whom they want. The fact that they will have some choice already won’t be enough – they will want what they can’t have. I guess its human nature really and the trick is knowing when to say “no” and mean it.