Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Member's Day

Today is a Member's Day, and the big show is the committee stage of Louisa Wall's Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. While a cursory reading of the Order Paper would suggest that it might not happen (being behind both the third reading of the Habeas Corpus Amendment Bill and the committee stage of David Clark's Holidays (Full Recognition of Waitangi Day and ANZAC Day) Amendment Bill), given what happened two weeks ago (when Parliament worked together to give us a timely debate), I'm not willing to make that call. The question is not whether they start it tonight, but whether they get it finished. There are a number of amendments put up (and I assume a number will be offered from the floor), and each will require a personal vote - which means ten minutes of waiting while MPs mill around in the lobbies. Given that this is the internet age, surely there's a better way of doing it than that?

Speaking of amendments, in addition to the expected referendum clauses (two versions each from Winston Peters and Brendon Horan), Louisa Wall Su'a William Sio is also trying to expand the scope of her bigot amendment to give religious institutions the right to discriminate in the provision of services. That is unacceptable, and MPs should vote it down. The whole purpose of human rights law is to remove bigotry from the public sphere. If religious organisations don't want their buildings "polluted" by same-sex marriages, they have a solution: don't offer them to the public, and keep them solely for the use of their members.

Correction: Corrected name of the guilty. This gives me some hope that the broader bigot exemption won't pass.