Marriage Equality Bill passes second test
By Isaac Davison @Isaac_Davison Email Isaac
Same-sex marriage in New Zealand came another step closer this evening after Parliament backed a bill to legalise it at the second reading.
MPs voted to support it by 77 votes to 44.
The bill’s sponsor, Labour MP Louisa Wall, told Parliament and a near-full public gallery that the discussion of her bill had highlighted the discrimination felt by gay communities in New Zealand.
“The agony and hardship that so many who bravely made submissions have had to face is unreasonable. But what’s totally unacceptable, is the state perpetuating that agony and hardship by not issuing marriage licences to loving, consenting and eligible non-heterosexual couples.”
She stressed the importance of freedom of religion in making the law change, but also made a plea to churches to consider the rights of the gay and transgender community “with love, compassion and reason”.
Most of the opposition to the legislation had come from religious groups, who objected to changing the traditional Christian structure of marriage.
Ms Wall argued that valuing people “for who they are” was the bare minimum that should be expected of the state.
She hoped that churches too would move towards a more inclusive approach to marriage, but said this was part of a longer journey that congregations would make in their own time.
National MP Tim Macindoe was the first to speak against the bill, saying that he had “difficulty in believing that God wants this change to be made”.
“New Zealand may indeed be a secular society but marriage has historically been a religious institution.”
New Zealand First MPs repeated their call for a public referendum on the issue, saying it was not for MPs to make such a significant social change.
The legislation is likely to return to Parliament at the end of the month and could be passed as early as next month.
If it passed into law, there is a four-month stand-down period before same-sex and transgender marriages could take place.
The bill passed its first reading by 80 votes to 40.
Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill
How they voted: 2nd reading
National: Amy Adams, Chris Auchinvole, Maggie Barry, Paula Bennett, Jackie Blue, Cam Calder, David Carter, Judith Collins, Jacqui Dean, Craig Foss, Aaron Gilmore (new MP), Paul Goldsmith, Jo Goodhew, Tim Groser, Tau Henare, Paul Hutchison, Nikki Kaye, Steven Joyce, John Key, Hekia Parata, Jami-Lee Ross, Scott Simpson, Chris Tremain, Nicky Wagner, Kate Wilkinson, Maurice Williamson.
Labour: Jacinda Ardern, Carol Beaumont (new MP), David Clark, Clayton Cosgrove, David Cunliffe, Clare Curran, Lianne Dalziel, Ruth Dyson, Kris Faafoi, Darien Fenton, Phil Goff, Chris Hipkins, Parekura Horomia, Raymond Huo (did not vote first reading), Shane Jones, Annette King, Iain Lees-Galloway, Andrew Little, Moana Mackey, Nanaia Mahuta, Trevor Mallard, Sue Moroney, David Parker, Rajen Prasad, Grant Robertson, David Shearer, Maryan Street, Rino Tirikatene, Phil Twyford, Louisa Wall, Megan Woods.
Greens: Steffan Browning, David Clendon, Catherine Delahunty, Julie-Anne Genter, Kennedy Graham, Kevin Hague, Gareth Hughes, Jan Logie, Mojo Mathers, Russel Norman, Denise Roche, Metiria Turei, Eugenie Sage, Holly Walker.
Maori Party: Pita Sharples, Te Ururoa Flavell, Tariana Turia
United Future: Peter Dunne
ACT: John Banks
Mana: Hone Harawira
National: Shane Ardern, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, David Bennett, Chester Borrows, Simon Bridges, Gerry Brownlee (changed vote), Jonathan Coleman (changed vote), Bill English, Chris Finlayson, Nathan Guy, John Hayes, Phil Heatley, Colin King, Melissa Lee, Sam Lotu-Iiga, Tim Macindoe, Todd McClay, Murray McCully (changed vote), Ian McKelvie (changed vote), Mark Mitchell, Alfred Ngaro, Simon O’Connor, Eric Roy, Tony Ryall, Mike Sabin, Katrina Shanks, Nick Smith, Lindsay Tisch, Anne Tolley, Louise Upston, Michael Woodhouse, Jian Yang, Jonathan Young.
Labour: Damien O’Connor, Ross Robertson, Su’a William Sio
Independent: Brendan Horan
Well, here we are – decidedly, it seems – on the way to the New Zealand Parliament opening up the way to Same-Sex Marriage in this country. What ever one feels about this upcoming legislation, there can be little doubt that a parliamentary majority has been persuaded that it fulfils a need in New Zealand, that is not adequately met by Same-Sex Civil Partnerships.
Interestingly, it would appear that several Members of Parliament changed the direction of their voting from the first reading – notably some high-profile Roman Catholics in the House – which may give an indication of their eventual feeling of obligation to meet the overriding policy of their own religious community. This should not be too surprising if, in fact, they may have voted in favour in the first instance, just to allow the bill to be brought forward for a more definitive result. That is practical politics.
I watched the debate on TV, and was generally impressed by the conduct of the debaters – especially those who personal lives were affected by the outcome. It does seem that the pre-existing atmosphere of homophobia and gender discrimination in New Zealand has taken a ‘King Hit’, which is a factor that can be recognised with gratitude – for both those formerly bullied or discriminated against for their innate sexual-orientation or gender.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand