United Future's Marriage (Gender Clarification) Amendment Bill will come before Parliament in a couple of weeks for its first vote. If it passes, the bill will do two things. The first would be to define marriage in exclusively heterosexual terms. While this mirrors the existing law (from Quilter v Attorney-General), enacting it at this stage would send the same message that the failure of the Homosexual Law Reform or Civil Union Acts would have done: that we are a nasty, bigoted, intolerant country, where gays will never truly be considered part of mainstream society. The second thing the bill would do would be to amend the Bill of Rights Act to allow discrimination in favour of marriage. This would gut existing anti-discrimination measures in the Human Rights Act, and effectively license both state and private discrimination against the unmarried. We've had those provisions since the Human Rights Commission Act 1977, and they've helped transform our society into a brighter, more tolerant place. But now United Future and the fundamentalist Christian lobby want to turn back the clock...
Almost every Labour MP is expected to vote against this bill, as the Greens and Jim Anderton. This leaves the bill's fate in the hands of ACT, the Maori Party, and National's liberal faction. Based on stated positions and past voting information, this gives us the following targets for lobbying:
- Rodney Hide
- Heather Roy
- Pansy Wong
- Clem Simich
- Katherine Rich
- Nicky Wagner
- Tim Groser
- Brian Donnelly
There is also a reasonable group who, while likely to support the definition of marriage, may not support weakening anti-discrimination laws. These include:
All but the first two voted for the Human Rights Act back in 1993. Reminding them of that could be useful leverage.
If we want an open, tolerant New Zealand, we need to speak up for it. You can start by contacting one of the people above about the bill. Or, you could sign the pledge and contact five...
(Address information from the Parliamentary Services list here).