Another of the findings of the Sunday Star-Times' morality survey was that people were generally unhappy with the "moral direction" of the government:
Just over half of those who responded to our survey thought the government's performance on moral leadership was terrible, very poor, or poor. Only 18% thought it was good, very good or excellent. And over half thought the government was too liberal on moral issues and had lost touch with family values.
According to Bill English, this is due to unhappiness with the government "forcing" liberal views on people:
"People don't think the government should be used to push a moral point of view on them. The media make the mistake of thinking a conservative view is an intolerant view. I'm regarded as conservative and I don't care what people do, but don't make me like it."
But this grossly misunderstands liberalism. It's not about "push[ing] a moral point of view", but about not pushing a moral point of view. There are some decisions - on what you believe, on how you live, on who you spend your life with - which the state simply has no business interfering with, no matter what we think of the morality. These things are ultimately personal, and respect for autonomy requires non-interference unless concrete harm to others can be demonstrated.
Likewise, contrary to English, people are not required to "like it" - but the government is required to be neutral as to people's lifestyles and not use the the force of law to punish those who fail to conform to the mythical mainstream or to encourage some preferred option. And this is exactly what the Prostitution Reform, Civil Union and Relationships acts (and indeed, homosexual law reform) were all about: removing interference by the state and ensuring neutrality. Which is why I am one of the 18% who believes that the present government has exhibited moral leadership: because they have stood up for the right of all New Zealanders to live as they wish, rather than using the state to inflict their personal prejudices on others.