All posts tagged marriage equality
Posted by Pete George on September 15, 2016
More editorials on the passing of the marriage equality bill (see also the previous editorial roundup – Mixed marriage equality editorials).
Taranaki Daily News – Wall’s work makes more equality
George Orwell in Animal Farm wrote: “All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.
In New Zealand society the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community has always been less equal than others. The phrase consenting adults did not apply to homosexuals until 1985.
When, in 2004 they were permitted to enter a civil union, it made them equal, but not as equal as heterosexuals, who could marry.
On Tuesday that changed with the passing of the marriage equality bill.
We suspect that those MPs who opposed it, including the three National MPs whose electorates cover Taranaki, will one day conclude they should have voted yes this week.
Nelson Mail – Love warms House – and life will go on
Emotions often run high in Parliament, but love is not usually among them.
However, on Wednesday night, love was in the air in the debating chamber that usually plays host to conflict.
It came in the words of MPs voting for Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill, and from couples holding hands in the packed public gallery.
Hugs, flowers and even a surprisingly tuneful mass version of Pokarekare Ana from the gallery added to the mood.
In the end the controversial Definition of Marriage Amendment Bill passed with a polite, at times, humorous debate.
Taking the final step is logical and has carried on a long New Zealand tradition of being at the forefront of social change, from universal suffrage and state welfare.
Southland Times – In good conscience
When Parliament passed Louisa Wall’s Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill on Wednesday night, it was a conscience vote worthy of the description.
The bill succeeded, as it deserved to, because it reflects the view – the gradually changed view – of a nation which recognises a crusty piece of old-style discrimination when it sees it.
It is a nation once repelled by homosexuality, but now far more uncomfortable with the morality, or perhaps just the meanness, of deeming that the inclusion of our family, friends or selves in committed same-sex relationships would debase the state of marriage.
Because why? Inappropriateness? Unworthiness? Unholiness? Most members of Parliament, if they went down that line of thinking at all, turned from it.
The debate was strikingly different from the thundering rancour during the 1986 homosexual law reform debate, and perceptibly more respectful of each other’s sincerity than in the civil union debate in 2004.
The great majority of the speakers on Wednesday were thoughtful and sincere. Both sides should recognise that.
Posted by Pete George on April 20, 2013
Editorial reaction to the passing of marriage equality bill has been mixed – it’s worth guessing that editorial writers will often be from older age groups.
Dominion Post was in favour – Bill gives equal opportunity for all
Before 9.30pm on Wednesday, a heterosexual couple who wanted to spend the rest of their lives together had three options. They could live as de-facto husband and wife, as many do, they could enter into a civil union or they could get married.
The passing two nights ago of Labour MP Louisa Wall’s bill allowing same-sex marriage has not altered those choices for heterosexual couples. Nor has it undermined or devalued the relationship status of those already married and those who will marry in the future.
It has merely extended to gay and transgender couples all the options that are available to straight couples.
All that has changed is that same-sex couples who love each other and who want to spend their lives together are no longer excluded by law from making the ultimate commitment purely because of their sexual orientation.
Waikato Times quoted several people in favour of the bill including Maurice Williamson and Lynda Topp but didn’t seem to share the gay mood in The sun will still rise
How well the vote mirrored public opinion is hard to gauge. One recent poll showed public opposition to same-sex marriage had grown significantly since Ms Wall’s bill came before Parliament. This shift in sentiment was not necessarily caused by scaremongering by the bill’s opponents, as its champions maintained. Opponents nevertheless were still outnumbered by supporters and young people overwhelmingly favoured it.
Some opposition was rooted in homophobia. Some was based on strongly held religious beliefs. Some people simply didn’t see the need for change, because civil unions went far enough in recognising same-sex relationships.
Former National MP Marilyn Waring wasn’t altogether in a celebratory mood, however, and condemned MPs who intended voting against the bill as cowards.
She will be aware that the rights of the opponents of same-sex marriage would be corroded, no matter how disagreeably they reason their stance, if Parliamentarians could not represent them. She will be aware, too, of the paradox in displaying intolerance of intolerance.
Manawatu Standard is positive despite their title – Prophecies of doom are overstated
The sanctity of marriage and even society itself will not be undermined or torn asunder. In fact, both will be strengthened by spreading even further underlying messages of hard work and togetherness implicit in the community’s official recognition of a couple, and by bringing gays further under the umbrella of conformity.
Even the churches could benefit, if they see the opportunity to spread their own message to a wider audience.
And maybe they too will find the sky hasn’t fallen.
ODT is more against the change – Same-sex marriage
For many social conservatives, notably those of fundamental or traditional religious beliefs, marriage was, is and should be a commitment between a man and a woman. The two genders are complementary and it is only through their union that children can be made naturally.
This important institution, upon which a healthy community is built, is being weakened, even debased. Further, why should gays try to co-opt ”marriage” when gay couples have virtually all the same rights through civil union legislation? That union signals couple status through specific vows and at a ceremony.
Surely, that is sufficient without muscling in on marriage?
Even though society is changing, even though liberalism triumphed on this occasion, the genuine and thoughtful beliefs of those opposed to change should be respected. Conservative reactions to declines in the morality, standards and safety in a complex and, at times, nasty modern world are understandable. There will, indeed, be times when holding fast to traditional views and laws are the appropriate reaction.
Taranaki Daily News has a “Modern Maiden” opinion – May we move on in love
One of the best things that will come from the passing of the Marriage Amendment Bill is that the arguments will stop and the nastiness will cease.
I’m glad to have it carved in stone and written into the law, not only for the obvious and most important reason of equality, but also so people will eventually stop voicing their hateful views.
As an openly bisexual woman there has not been a week gone by since the bill was pulled from the ballot that I have not had to listen to somebody telling me exactly why it shouldn’t be made into law, and why it is wrong to even want it to.
The people who have shared their sometimes hurtful views with me have been friends, men at the bar who I had known for less than an hour, and even a couple of members of my family.
The bill has now passed, and for reasons of equality and civil rights I am over the moon, but I can’t shift this feeling of relief.
I am relieved because now the saga is over. There will be no more debating, no national marches and no more personal harassment.
The hurtful conversations should eventually stop and we can get on with trying to love one another again.
I am pretty sure that love was meant to be the focus of the bill in the first place, and I guess that’s what made it hard to understand where all this hatred came from.
The time has come. The bill has passed. May we move on in love.
Posted by Pete George on April 19, 2013
And a comment that deserves a separate post from ‘scottfack’ who sees the passing of the Marriage Bill as a giant step:
As a homosexual, it’s a giant step. Why? Because now I, and my relationship with my partner, is equal in the eyes of the law. Fully equal.
It’s a giant step because my transgendered student and friend can now change her birth certificate to female without having to annul her marriage certificate.
It’s a giant step for all those people who want the legal power to adopt and have their relationships with their partner’s children recognised legally.
While I wasn’t fussed if it happened last night (as I know New Zealand would have eventually come around), the issue itself was a big deal.
Posted by Pete George on April 18, 2013
‘graham’ at Kiwiblog asks:
I’m confused about one thing in this debate.
For some time, the supporters of this bill have been telling us that it’s really not a big deal, it won’t make any difference to the majority of people, and it’s not that big a change, etc.
So why was there such passion, such interest, such excitement last night from the bill’s supporters, over a “relatively minor change”?
One small step for equality, one giant step for homosexuals.
Posted by Pete George on April 18, 2013
The marriage bill was a Member’s Bill submitted and guided by Louisa Wall. This is her speech from the third reading last night.
MARRIAGE (DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE) AMENDMENT BILL
LOUISA WALL (Labour—Manurewa):
Tēnā koutou katoa. I move, That the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill be now read a third time. My observation in my time in the House has been that there are few occasions when the public gallery is full to overflowing.
This bill has seen a full gallery at the first and second readings, and again tonight. My only other experience of that has been Treaty settlement legislation recording the agreement reached between Māori and the Crown.
In both instances the parties affected are minority groups that have been marginalised. They have been dealt with unjustly under the law. Steps are being taken to right the wrongs they have suffered, and it shows me that this process matters.
Having Parliament recognise and address injustice and unfairness matters to those affected by it. It is the start of the healing process.
This third reading is our road towards healing and including all citizens in our State institution of marriage, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Although our focus has been on Aotearoa, it is important to remember we are one country that is part of a global community discussing marriage equality. Twelve countries have already been through this process.
The US President has declared his support unequivocally.
The Queen has recently signed a Commonwealth charter that explicitly opposes all forms of discrimination, which she describes as emphasising inclusiveness.
The UK, led by its Prime Minister, has introduced legislation.
But marriage equality is only one issue. There is still a lot of work to be done to address discrimination against our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex—or LGBTI—communities.
Closer to home, many of our Pacific neighbours still criminalise homosexuality; so too do the countries of our new migrant communities. We need to understand these heritage identities and how they contribute to this debate.
As the indigenous people of Aotearoa, we can acknowledge that takatāpui have always been part of our history and culture, and that is the case for many indigenous people around the world: fa‘fafine, akava‘ine, fakaleiti, and mahu vahine are words that go back in time to identifying our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities.
They are part of our Pacific heritage and need to be acknowledged. And we need to learn from history.
Marriage laws have continually been used as a tool of oppression.
The Nuremberg laws in 1935 prohibited marriage between German nationals and Jews.
The South African Immorality Act and the Prohibition of Mixed Marriage Act prohibited marriage and sexual contact between races until they were repealed in 1985.
Forty US states prohibited interracial marriage.
Women lost all property rights and their identity upon marriage.
Excluding a group in society from marriage is oppressive and unacceptable. There is no justification for the prohibitions of the past based on religion, race, or gender.
Today we are embarrassed and appalled by these examples, and in every instance it was action by the State. This is not about church teachings or philosophy. It never has been.
It is about the State excluding people from the institution of marriage because of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, and that is no different from the actions taken in these historical examples.
Principles of justice and equality are not served if the key civil institution of marriage is reserved for heterosexuals only.
In the landmark Ontario decision, Justice LaForme wrote: “Any ‘alternative status’ that nonetheless provides for the same financial benefits as marriage in and of itself amounts to segregation.
This case is about access to a deeply meaningful [social] institution—it is about equal participation in the activity, expression, security, and integrity of marriage. Any ‘alternative’ to marriage, in my opinion simply offers the insult of formal equivalency without the … promise of substantive equality.”
Ever since Brown v Board of Education in 1954, the “separate but equal” doctrine has been seen as segregation and contrary to achieving equality.
I want to emphasise again what this bill does not do.
It does not legalise criminal offences. In fact, it is clear the definition proposed in this amendment is a union of two people only.
It does not force any minister or celebrant to marry a couple against their wishes. Section 29 remains in force and has been strengthened by the Government Administration Committee amendment.
It does not change adoption laws. Gay couples have adopted children for many years, but the law has not recognised that parenting reality. Children of same-sex relationships have not been allowed to have both parents’ names on their birth certificate.
The injustice and pain of this was made clear by an email I received, and I am able to share it with the House. It reads:
“My partner and I had been together for 7 years when we decided to start a family. When our daughter was born, my partner’s name was on her birth certificate as her birth mother.
When our daughter was 13, my partner was diagnosed with terminal cancer. We talked to our solicitor and found out that the only way I could adopt our daughter was if the relationship with her mum was legally terminated. How could we possibly do that to a child who was faced with her mum dying? Instead I applied for, and was granted, guardianship.
When my daughter turned 18, the guardianship expired. It was only when my own parents died that it struck home with me that my daughter and I had no legal relationship, despite me having been her parent all her life. We talked it over and I applied to adopt her.
Fortunately, all this happened before she turned 20, because I believe it might have been too late. It was the right thing to do but still hard on her. She gets a new birth certificate and her mum no longer legally exists. This is just so ridiculous and so wrong.
If your bill had been law when my partner was still alive, then we could have married and our daughter would have both her parents recorded as such.”
Under this bill both women could have been spouses and recorded on their daughter’s birth certificate. Without this bill that is a privilege limited to heterosexual married couples only.
In our society the meaning of marriage is universal. It is a declaration of love and commitment to a special person. Law that allows all people to enjoy that state is the right thing to do.
Law that prohibits people from enjoying that state is just wrong.
Those who celebrate religious or cultural marriage are absolutely unaffected by this bill. That has never been part of the State’s marriage law and it never should be.
There is another similarity between this bill and Treaty settlement legislation: the quality and tone of the debate within this House.
I believe that is the result of our effective cross-party working group with Tau Henare and Kevin Hague. Conrad Reyners, national spokesperson for the Campaign for Marriage Equality, was also involved, and with Cameron, Jacqui, Fedora, Tony, Natalie, Kurt, and Andrew, has kept the issue alive and relevant.
I am also grateful to Megan Campbell, Sean Wallace, and David Farrar for their support and work with MPs, and my executive assistant, Mereana Ruri, for helping coordinate this activity.
I would also like to acknowledge the leadership across the House, from the Prime Minister, who expressed his support early on, as did the leader of the Labour Party, David Shearer, and we have seen leadership by John Banks, Peter Dunne, Hone Harawira, Pita Sharples, and Tariana Turia.
I also acknowledge the Greens, who from the outset have taken a supportive position as a party. For them it was not a conscience vote but a manifesto commitment.
There are many individuals and groups within our communities and churches who have continually addressed the facts and made it real.
I particularly thank the youth wings of all political parties and student unions around the country. The messages have remained positive.
I am very proud to be a member of a community that has stood up to be counted with such dignity and reason.
A personal thanks to everyone who has contacted me by email, through Facebook, particularly Craig Young and those in the community offering support and often just saying thanks.
Finally, ngā mihi aroha ki a koutou te whānau, and to my darling crew, thank you for your work and for sharing this journey with me. Nothing can counteract the very real negative consequences of not passing this bill, but nothing could make me more proud to be a New Zealander than passing this bill.
It is an honour to represent your country and the people of New Zealand. I am proud to be a member of this 50th Parliament, which will continue New Zealand’s proud human rights tradition.
I thank my colleagues for simply doing what is fair, just, and right. Kia ora.
Posted by Pete George on April 18, 2013
One of the good things about bills on social issues that allow a conscience vote is you get MPs speaking from personal experience and sometimes with passion, sometimes with humour. It can also throw up surprises.
One of the surprises in last night’s Marriage Amendment Bill was National MP Maurice Williamson.
In The House video: Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill – Third Reading – Part 2
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON (National—Pakuranga): I too will be taking a split call with my colleague Jami-Lee Ross. It is sort of the young and the vibrant versus the old and the boring. Members of the House will be forced to choose which one is which.
I want to first of all congratulate Louisa Wall for this bill, the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, and I want to say that the good news about years spent in this Parliament is that you learn to deflect all of the dreadful fire and brimstone accusations that are going to happen.
I have had a reverend in my local electorate call and say that the gay onslaught will start the day after this bill is passed. We are really struggling to know what the gay onslaught will look like.
We do not know whether it will come down the Pakuranga Highway as a series of troops, or whether it will be a gas that flows in over the electorate and blocks us all in.
I also had a Catholic priest tell me that I was supporting an unnatural act.I found that quite interesting coming from someone who has taken an oath of celibacy for his whole life.
Hon Amy Adams: “Cell-i-bacy”.
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: “Cell-i-bacy”. OK, we will go with “Cell-i-bacy”. OK. I have not done it, so I do not know what it is about. I also had a letter telling me that I would burn in the fires of hell for eternity.
That was a bad mistake, because I have got a degree in physics. I used the thermodynamic laws of physics. I put in my body weight and my humidity and so on. I assumed the furnace to be at 5,000 degrees. I will last for just on 2.1 seconds. It is hardly eternity. What do you think?
I also heard some more disgusting claims about adoption. Well, I have got three fantastic adopted kids. I know how good adoption is, and I have found some of the claims just disgraceful. I found some of the bullying tactics really evil. I gave up being scared of bullies when I was at primary school.
However, a huge amount of the opposition was from moderates, from people who were concerned, who were seriously worried, about what this bill might do to the fabric of our society. I respect their concern. I respect their worry. They were worried about what it might to do to their families and so on.
Let me repeat to them now that all we are doing with this bill is allowing two people who love each other to have that love recognised by way of marriage. That is all we are doing.
We are not declaring nuclear war on a foreign State. We are not bringing a virus in that could wipe out our agricultural sector for ever.
We are allowing two people who love each other to have that recognised, and I cannot see what is wrong with that for neither love nor money. I just cannot. I cannot understand why someone would be opposed.
I understand why people do not like what it is that others do. That is fine. We are all in that category.
But I give a promise to those people who are opposed to this bill right now. I give you a watertight guaranteed promise.
The sun will still rise tomorrow.
Your teenage daughter will still argue back to you as if she knows everything.
Your mortgage will not grow.
You will not have skin diseases or rashes, or toads in your bed.
The world will just carry on.
So do not make this into a big deal.
This bill is fantastic for the people it affects, but for the rest of us, life will go on.
Finally, can I say that one of the messages I had was that this bill was the cause of our drought—this bill was the cause of our drought.
Well, if any of you follow my Twitter account, you will see that in the Pakuranga electorate this morning it was pouring with rain. We had the most enormous big gay rainbow across my electorate.
It has to be a sign. It has to be a sign. If you are a believer, it is certainly a sign.
Can I finish—for all those who are concerned about this—with a quote from the Bible. It is Deuteronomy. I thought Deuteronomy was a cat out of the musical Cats, but never mind. The quote is Deuteronomy 1:29: “Be ye not afraid.”
Posted by Pete George on April 18, 2013
I don’t know if Colin Craig will find enough people with enough enthusiasm who want to continue the gay marriage/marriage equality debate indefinitely, but he says he will carry on the fight against gay marriage.
The Conservative Party believes the fight against gay marriage will continue after tonight’s reading, even though it looks likely to pass.
The third reading of the Marriage Amendment Bill gets underway in Parliament this evening – with many heading for the public gallery to witness the historic moment.
It would make New Zealand the 13th country in the world to allow gay marriage.
But Conservative Party leader Colin Craig says even if the bill does pass through – it won’t be the end for those campaigning against the idea.
“The way to affect change from here is through a binding referenda.
“The Conservative Party is the party that wants to bring in binding referenda, and if we get enough support at the next election we’ll be doing that.”
Even if his party gets into Parliament next year they would have to get enough support for a binding referendum from other MPs (very unlikely).
By the time a referendum was held, if he gets a favourable result, there will have been two or three years of gay marriages. Would he annul the marriages? Or just stop any more gay marriages? Either would be bizarre.
Craig seems to be using it as an ongoing vote rallying tool, like he has used smacking – both with little realistic chance of changing anything.
Posted by Pete George on April 17, 2013
It has been suggested that arguments for and against same sex marriage could be summarised by two words (I have added my summaries):
Love – should any couple who love each other be able to get married, regardless of their sexual orientation?
Fear – fear of religious faith being challenged, fear of marriage being devalued, fear of the end of society as we know it, fear of homosexuality?
Someone heavily involved in the debate has blogged:
The contrast between those in favour and those opposed was striking.
There have been strong arguments both for and against the proposed changes in the marriage equality bill. Politicians have received numerous emails and letters, and a large number of people made submissions to the parliamentary select committee.
We looked for a graphic way of representing this contrast, and used a “sample” of all the correspondence that arrived over a particular time to create word clouds. It’s not science. It’s not discourse analysis. But it makes the point.
Fundamentally there is a difference of world view: those opposed subscribe to a moral code based, usually, on a particular religious faith, and believe everyone should follow this code, whether or not they share that faith.
By way of contrast those who support the Bill usually have a very clear pluralist world view, in which they see the role of Government as providing a framework for a society of many faiths and codes of behaviour.
Posted by Pete George on April 13, 2013
“Traditional marriage” has changed significantly over the ages. From Changing Notions of Traditional Marriage:
But here’s the problem: The notion of traditional marriage that these conservatives are so vigorously defending is not historically accurate. Pundit Bill Kristol recently fell into this trap when he complained that supporters of marriage equality want to overthrow “thousands of years of history and what the great religions teach” about marriage.
In actuality, traditional marriage — as it existed centuries ago — is not worth defending.
Let’s start with concubines, also known as mistresses, who were owned by husbands in ancient cultures and are mentioned without disapproval throughout the Hebrew Bible. Then there’s the practice of polygamy, which was the norm in biblical times. Back then, tradition forced rape victims to marry their rapist. Tradition also called for victorious soldiers to make female war prisoners their wives and concubines.
In the Middle Ages, marriages were arranged for political and financial reasons, and girls could be forced to marry when they were as young as 12 years old. British Common Law held a man to be “lord and master” of his wife who was subject to “domestic chastisement.” Wife beating was legal and common in England until the late 1800s.
In colonial America, wife beating was illegal, but marriage equaled patriarchy. A wife had no legal rights or existence apart from her husband. Any money or property she inherited belonged to him. Their children were his as well. Wife abuse was not uncommon.
n 1864 a North Carolina court heard the case of a woman abused by her husband because she had called him names. The court ruled that:
“A husband is responsible for the acts of his wife, and he is required to govern his household, and for that purpose the law permits him to use towards his wife such a degree of force as is necessary to control an unruly temper and make her behave herself; and unless some permanent injury be inflicted, or there be an excess of violence, or such a degree of cruelty as shows that it is inflicted to gratify his own bad passions, the law will not invade the domestic forum, or go behind the curtain.”
That is not dissimilar to New Zealand – that sort of court attitude lingered through most of last century, and some attitudes like it linger on still amongst a minority.
It wasn’t until the 20th century, when women fought for and won the right to vote, to sign contracts on their own, to obtain financial credit, to have access to contraception and more, that these earlier notions of traditional marriage began to crumble, and something resembling the institution we recognize today began to emerge.
But each of the advances for women’s equality was fought by forces that considered them an invasion of the sacred private realm of the home and an assault on the family. Even so, these advances became part of law and culture and are now the norm. In fact, they are embedded in the institution that conservatives are now so fiercely defending.
Marriage has always been dynamic. For the most part, its evolution has been positive. Marriage today is far more mutually supportive, egalitarian and secure for children than it was centuries ago. Take heart, conservatives. The institution of marriage does change and adapt over the years, and that is what makes it endure.
We can’t be sure what the effects of gay marriage will have but if the history of marriage evolution is anything to go by most people will accept as normal what not long ago seemed controversial.
Posted by Pete George on April 12, 2013