Religion and marriage equality

March 21, 2013 in General

No homerphobia here, folks

During the debate at the second reading of Louisa Wall’s bill last week, I was interested to hear several MPs use religion as their justification for voting against marriage equality.

My personal view is that their understanding of the issue is based on a misinterpretation of both the origins of marriage and the extent to which faith systems should be imposed on society.

Below is an extract from some notes I drafted for the Campaign for New Zealand Marriage Equality explaining my basis for holding this view:

“The Marriage Equality Bill before Parliament deals with marriage as a legal institution. As with religious marriage practice, the legal institution of marriage has evolved with time. Historically a wife was owned by her husband, marital rape was permitted, interracial marriage was forbidden, and marriage between those of different faiths was condemned. The state has recognised shortcomings in the definition of marriage in these instances, and a lack of provision for same-sex couples to marry is another such shortcoming which should be corrected.

Marriage is not a religious institution. Formal recognition of adult unions existed in ancient societies long before the advent of religious faith systems such as Christianity. It is flawed to argue that marriage is the exclusive domain of religion.Marriage is a state institution which allows couples legal rights and benefits, and should not be influenced by religious beliefs.

Some people suggest that society should follow the principles of the bible, which they believe condemns homosexuality. Ancient religious texts are contextual however, and open to interpretation. For example, the use of polyester is forbidden in the bible, as is working on Saturday. Under the Old Testament a rape victim is expected to marry their rapist, and a child who is disrespectful to their parents should be stoned to death. The New Testament speaks against homosexual activity, but also condones slavery and the subordination of women.

Society has recognised that such practices are wrong, and has legislated accordingly. Thus while modern society protects the right to practice religion, it also restricts that right to within reasonable bounds. Where religious expression infringes on the civil liberties of others, that religious expression must be restricted. The human right to equality before the law takes precedent over the right to freedom of religious expression.”

Religion and marriage equality


    1. Andy says:

      It’s a conscience vote: if religious beliefs weigh heavily on their conscience then they are entitled to vote accordingly. That’s what conscience votes are for. I’m just happy they were so open about their reasoning and didn’t try to hide it.

    2. Therese Quin says:

      Or perhaps a con – science vote! Do they think ‘the angels’ keep their planes in the air? What happened to the separation of powers or the law? It seems bereft of intelligence or reason.

Religion and marriage equality

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