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Wednesday 08 October 2008

Proclamations of the Red Queen

3rd October 2008

Same-Sex Marriage: The Christian Right’s Rearguard Activism

Posted by: Craig Young

If you thought that the New Zealand Christian Right had given up trying to get same-sex marriage banned after the failure of Gordon Copeland’s same sex marriage ban bill back in 2005, then be aware that two Christian Right groups are trying to get the issue back on the agenda.

These are Family First, which included the vote for or against Copeland’s same-sex marriage ban bill as a ‘family’ issue in its voters guide, and Right to Life New Zealand, an extremist, Christchurch-based anti-abortion group that wants abortion banned completely in this country. One of its forthcoming questionnaire items for candidates is “Do you support the law that marriage should be between one man and one woman?” I fail to see what this has to do with the abortion debate, given that we don’t tend to get married in shotgun weddings as yet.

So, what should we do about this? I suggest that we reciprocate by asking them point blank whether they want to enshrine discriminatory marriage provisions in New Zealand law through mangling the Bill of Rights Act 1990, as Copeland advocated in his private members bill three years or so ago. Helen Clark will probably say that she will abide by the Solicitor-General, Michael Cullen, and his findings that the proposed private members bill would breach the Bill of Rights. Jim Anderton and the Greens would probably agree with that. For different reasons, so might the Maori Party- after all, the Hawaiian sovereignty movement tells us that pre-colonial Polynesian culture had its own same-sex nuptial ceremonies.

I would invite John Key to make a similar commitment, given that he also voted against the same-sex marriage ban bill. As his Canadian counterpart, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, did with the abortion debate, recently, I think it would be a useful bridge-building exercise for him to firmly state that he did not want any member of his caucus to revive the same-sex marriage ban issue during any prospective tenure as New Zealand’s governing party. Or, for that matter, ask Rodney Hide whether, given that his initial vote for the ban, ACT will now oppose any such measure as unconscionable state interference with what should be a private ceremonial event of significance. Given the ‘loss’ of Copeland and Baldock to the Kiwi Party, even Peter Dunne might decide to change his vote, especially given that current polls have him losing Judy Turner.

While it’s unlikely any of us would want to vote for United Future, asking Key and Rodney those questions is something that some of us need to seriously consider. I hope that they will positively affirm that same-sex marriage is a matter for a future New Zealand Parliament to legislate for, not foreclose it altogether out of homophobic malice.

Not Recommended:
Family First’s Value Your Vote website
Right to Life New Zealand

Tags: Politics · Religion

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