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Civil Unions provide greater protections

Minister: Civil Unions provide greater relationship protections

The new civil union legislation offers not just more choice to people but greater protection to couples in committed relationships, says Associate Justice Minister David Benson-Pope.

Responding to the criticisms of the United Future party, Mr Benson-Pope says it is unfortunate that after so much time to consider the Bill members of United Future had failed to recognise such a significant point.

"Entering a civil union will provide a couple with certainty about their social and legal status," said Mr Benson-Pope. "The process of solemnising their civil union in front of family and friends will provide social and legal recognition of that relationship.

"In the event of the sudden death of one of the civil union partners, for example, there can be no dispute as to the status of the remaining partner, as often happens in de facto situations. Civil Unions offers that greater level of protection."

Mr Benson-Pope said it was sad that members of the only party in Parliament who have not made the issue a conscience vote, seemed unable to accept, respect and indeed support the life choices of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders.

Mr Benson-Pope says Census figures showed some 330,000 New Zealanders had chosen to live in a relationship other than marriage. There were also roughly 10,000 people in same-sex relationships who cannot marry.

"The intention is that civil union will be a new legal entity, recognising the reality of New Zealand in the 21st century," he said.

"It is simply an issue of choice. The Government is not forcing anybody to do anything, but people will be able to put their own value on their relationship and decide how they want to present that to the world.

"Some critics of this legislation appear to be people who have exercised their choice to get married, yet want to deny the right of others to choose to formalise their relationships."

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