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Hidden Second Leg to Attorney General’s Strategy

Hidden Second Leg to Attorney General’s Strategy

Monday 13th Nov 2000 Stephen Franks Media Release -- Justice

ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks has challenged the Government to allow a true conscience vote on its proposed Property (Relationships) Act.

The Property (Relationships) Bill will start its second reading debate tomorrow. The coalition has contrived a public perception that whether the bill should cover same sex couples is the important issue. That is the matter subject to a conscience vote. What they have not revealed is that same-sex marriage is already on its legislative agenda separately.

“Labour’s Tim Barnett MP, Chairman of the Justice and Electoral Select Committee, recently announced in the gay and lesbian news media that same-sex marriage will probably be enacted by the Government in 2001, while the Property (Relationships) Act would come into force from 2002,” said Mr Franks.

“Same-sex marriage or official registration of homosexual couples would automatically confer relationship property rights on gay or lesbian partners.

“The Government is just multiplying laws by planning to legislate for both de facto relationship property rights and same-sex marriage or registration.

“It is therefore quite unnecessary to hide the true effect of the Property (Relationships) Act behind media preoccupation with the same sex issue, because legal recognition of both heterosexual and homosexual marriages would make the proposed law change redundant.

"The promised conscience vote is a sham. The Bill has reinstated references to marriage, and husband and wife, but they are camouflage. The Bill still forces all relationships into the same mould. The key conscience issue is whether marriage property claims should be a matter of choice, or of compulsion for people who have chosen not to marry.

“Attorney General Margaret Wilson should explain fully why the government intends to make the same sex element of its de facto relationship property law redundant by 2001 when same-sex partnerships are planned to receive official recognition.

“Tim Barnett’s announcement on same-sex marriage exposes the Property (Relationships) Act as an ideological exercise in redistribution. It undermines previous claims by Rainbow Labour that the proposed Act is primarily justified by need for homosexual equality in law.”

“There should be no change from the present position for heterosexual de facto couples. They can opt in and opt out of sharing property by marrying. The proposed position means these couples will have to opt out of compulsory joint property if they do not intend to share. That is the matter on which there should be a conscience vote. And freedom should apply for all couples without distinction," said Stephen Franks.

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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