Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Liberalism and Civil Unions

Jordan has a good post on Civil Unions and our character as a liberal nation over at Just Left. He holds out a vision of New Zealand as the new home of freedom, which is one I wholeheartedly endorse, and one with a solid grounding in the new national identity we have defined for ourselves since the 80's (and which the Labour government is helping to define further).

Unfortunately he also buys into the "moral values" angst currently stalking American liberals, saying that:

The challenge facing liberals (who are both left- and right-wing) is to be much better at explaining the moral reasoning behind our positions. In the absence of strong moral claims about why what we support is right, we leave all the running on "morality" to the conservatives, and that is not ground any of us should be considering giving up.

The irony here is that we do have strong moral arguments for our positions. Civil Unions, like all liberal positions, are essentially about equality, freedom, and fairness:

  • the equality of everyone before the law;
  • the freedom of everyone to pursue their life without unnecessary interference by the state, or (in a positive sense) the freedom of everyone to enjoy a full human life;
  • the recognition that current arrangements, which deny full equality and limit freedom on the grounds of sexual orientation, are unfair. Sexual orientation is not a morally relevant characteristic.

While diehard conservatives reject these values, the New Zealand public in general does not, and so they cannot be easily dismissed.