March 31, 2013
The Gay Marriage Bill – a matter of rights
Opinion: Over the past week, we've had some fascinating discussions on talkback radio about the Gay Marriage Bill.
The bill is close to becoming law with support across the parties.
Even Prime Minister John Key is not opposed so it's likely to be passed as a conscience vote.
It's been an interesting debate with Kiwis split down the middle on this issue.
On the opposing side and at the extreme are the homosexual haters and religious nuts who have been doing their best to stop the bill.
The less extreme opposers are those who claim not to be anti-gay but regard the sanctity of marriage as being strictly between a man and a woman.
Their view is less understood probably because as opposers they're simply lumped together with the homosexual haters and nuts.
The supporters of the bill on the other side argue for the legal right of gay couples to marry and claim that it is a matter of basic civil and equal rights.
They point out the good reasons why gay marriages should be legalised.
For example, married people tend to be better off financially, emotionally and psychologically than those who are unmarried. This means that gay couples in a legal marriage will be better off too.
Marriage as an institution is generally seen as a stabilising force in society and so legally married gay couples would most likely have a strengthening effect on society.
If I was still in Parliament I would vote for the Gay Marriage Bill.
For me it's a rights argument and I believe that individuals should not be discriminated against because of their gender, sexual orientation, race, religion or any other criteria.
In 1984 I supported the homosexual law reforms and the right of gay people to have equal rights in law. But it's taken almost 30 years since then for this bill to come before Parliament.
Those who have argued that the Gay Marriage Bill is being rushed through Parliament should consider how long it's taken for us to get to this point.
The gay community has fought hard and long for this legal entitlement and deserves to see this bill passed into legislation.
The success of this bill will mean that our country's civil rights record will be improved and that some of the barriers that gay couples have faced will be removed.
And with the increasing support of legalised marriage by other Western nations, New Zealand will be in step with international developments concerning gay rights.
But having won, the gay community should not rest on its laurels because the haters and nutters will still be opposing them and the talkback discussions will continue to be as lively as ever.