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Government Moves To Marry Thousands Today

Thursday 4th May 2000
Stephen Franks
Media Release -- Social Welfare

The Government will move this afternoon to shut out the public from having any input on its radical moves to include de facto and same sex couples in marriage law effectively marrying thousands of unsuspecting New Zealanders.

The Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill will today come before the House and MPs will take a conscience vote on whether defacto and same sex couples should be included in the Bill. These controversial provisions have not been scrutinised by a Select Committee and the public have had no chance to make submissions on them.

ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks is warning that the Government is trying to push the entire Bill through Parliament giving New Zealanders absolutely no say on whether marriage in New Zealand now simply means living together for three years. “In effect Helen Clark and Margaret Wilson want to put hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting New Zealand couples through the Registry Office in the next few days without any chance to say no,” he said.

“It took our law hundreds of years to develop the safeguards against forced marriage. A public “I do” is not just a quaint ritual. Open access to a consensual marriage ceremony was a major social advance,” he said.

“If Parliament passes this Bill, thousands of New Zealanders will wake up ‘married’ without even knowing it,” said Stephen Franks.

“I am outraged that Labour and the Alliance are so contemptuous of democracy on such an important and far reaching piece of legislation. They have not even bothered to survey same sex and de facto couples to ask whether they want to be deemed ‘married’,” he said.

“This Bill gives new meaning to the old phrase ‘marry in haste, repent at leisure,” said Stephen Franks.

“After the public made submissions on changes to the Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill last year it did not include de facto and same sex couples. The Government has unilaterally added them into the Bill and wants Parliament to pass it into law without any public scrutiny or submissions,” said Stephen Franks.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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