Two years ago we saw the biggest shitfight in recent memory in New Zealand politics, over civil unions. The law passed, but the level of opposition and the decision by the National Party to reject equality and human rights and instead pander to bigots led many to see it as a high-tide mark for social reform, at least for the next few years. But a bill in yesterday's ballot may put that to the test.
The bill is Metiria Turei's Adoption (
Civil Unions Equity) Amendment Bill. In case it is not apparent from the new title, the bill would amend the Adoption Act 1955 to extend to civil union and de facto partners the same adoption rights as married couples. Which means that, if they are judged "fit and proper persons" and are not rejected by the birth mother, gay couples could adopt.
I support this bill, and I'm looking forward to it being drawn and passed. The current situation is blatantly discriminatory, and for no good reason; Gays make perfectly good parents, and that's what should matter in adoption decisions. But what I'm not looking forward to is the public "debate" that will result from the bill being put before Parliament. Civil unions saw an unprecedented anti-gay hatefest, complete with its own blackshirted Nuremberg rally marching on Parliament. Gay adoption will be worse. The fundamentalists will label every gay in the country a paedophile, and seek to tar those who support equality with the same brush - and while there's an obvious comeback to such vile bullshit - Graham Capill, anyone? - its really not something I'm looking forward to. Which is, I suspect the point: to deter progress through sheer viciousness and prey on the desire of most people not to deal with such lunacy. Which is also precisely why we cannot give into it.
I've commented earlier that gay adoption is (somewhat ironically) the progressive issue with the best chance of passing this term. The biggest danger is that the Exclusive Brethren's man in Parliament will decide that its a perfect issue to demonstrate his "anti-PC" agenda, and use the whip to force his MPs to vote against it rather than allowing a conscience vote. If that happens, the bill will fail. So while it hasn't even been drawn yet - and may never be, despite the Ballot Mojo - it might pay to start laying some groundwork and lobbying MPs to try and ensure that it has at least some chance of success.