Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


Speech: Wall - Marriage Equality Second Reading

Louisa
WALL
MP for Manurewa
13 March 2013 SPEECH
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

Second Reading Marriage (Definition Of Marriage) Amendment Bill

Kia ora Mr Speaker. Tena koutou katoa. I move that the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill be now read a second time.

Mr Speaker, in this second reading debate I want to focus on value. The value, the regard, the importance or preciousness that every person should feel as a New Zealand citizen.

During the debate on this Bill a number of views have been expressed about a person's value.

I've been moved by the depth of feeling of those affected by the Bill. Those who will be able to choose whether they access a social institution they are currently prohibited from accessing, for no reason other than their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.

The feeling of being excluded, of being a second class citizen, of being outside the normal parameters of society proliferate amongst our community - but we are normal and we are entitled to the same rights as every other citizen.

The issue of coming out, of being true to who you are is difficult enough for any person. The discussion around this Bill has emphasised how real the discrimination is. 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.

This Bill is about marriage equality. It's not about gay marriage, same sex marriage or straight marriage. It's about marriage between two people. There's no distinction to be made. That is equality. Whether the form of that marriage is religious, secular or cultural is a matter for the couple to determine. Denying marriage to a person is to devalue that person's right to participate fully in all that life offers. It's essentially not recognising someone as a person. No state has the right to do that.

To deny trans-people, intersex, lesbian and gay people the right to marry is to deny them recognition as a person. Opponents to this bill are essentially asserting that non-heterosexuals are not equal people and therefore are not entitled to the same rights as other people.

As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said when being sworn in as the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town in 1986 -

"a person is a person because he recognises others as persons".

Almost 20 years later in a sermon in London in 2004, Archbishop Tutu expressed his wish to reverse injustice by ending the persecution of people because of their sexual orientation, which he described as every bit as unjust as that crime against humanity, apartheid. He stated and I quote:

"For me this struggle is a seamless robe. Opposing apartheid was a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination against women is a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a matter of justice.

It is also a matter of love. Every human being is precious. We are all - all of us - part of God's family. We all must be allowed to love each other with honor. Yet all over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are persecuted. We treat them as pariahs and push them outside our communities. We make them doubt that they too are children of God. This must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for what they are."




Archbishop Tutu's logic and reasoning is compelling. It's the same logic and reason that should guide us all in this House when we vote on this issue.

To most people marriage is an institution characterised by positivity. It's about love, commitment and family. No sector of society has the right to claim ownership of marriage and determine that their perception and practice of marriage is the only acceptable way. Marriage belongs to society as a whole. And that requires the involvement of the whole of society. The role of the State in marriage is to issue a licence to two people who love each other and want to commit to one another formally. That's what this Bill does.

To be valued for who we are is the bare minimum we should expect from others. It's the bare minimum we should expect from the State. For me it's what I would expect from a Church but that will be a longer journey and one that each denomination and Church community will determine in their own time.

The State's position is that all human beings are equal citizens and the law protects various aspects of a person's identity including their sex, sexual orientation, age, colour and race. These are fundamental aspects of our identity with which we are born. The Human Rights Act and the Bill of Rights Act extends the protections beyond these innate aspects to matters of status and belief.

I've always been clear that in pursuing marriage equality I will defend the rights of those in the churches to practice their religion on terms that they consider reflect their beliefs. Freedom of religion is an individual right and I support the Select Committee's recommendation to strengthen section 29 of the Act to make it clear there is no compulsion for a Minister to perform a marriage that he or she does not feel comfortable about. Section 29 protects all celebrants.

Attempts by opponents in the last week to limit the protection only to those listed in the amendment is totally misleading. The Select Committee amendment is clear - the specific amendment that refers to organisational celebrants begins with the words "without limiting the generality of subsection (1)". The general protection in section 29 remains in place and applies to all celebrants. To read it any other way is disingenuous.
Exercising freedom of religion means religious groups view marriage as exclusive. That's the reality of freedom of religion and it's my intention to recognise that freedom and therefore allow that discrimination to continue for as long as religious leaders and specific denominations choose.

But in return I would ask that Churches consider the rights of the LGBTI community with love, compassion and reason. My Bill is one step and will allow members of the LGBTI community to participate in the civil and state institution of marriage. Some church leaders have embraced that step and I'm hopeful that time will see a change in the attitude and practices of other Church members.

I do have hope that Churches will move towards an inclusive approach to marriage. Last October the General Assembly of the New Zealand Presbyterian Church passed a motion opposing this Bill but an attempt to pass a motion that their ministers could only conduct a marriage between a man and a woman was lost. That's a positive step and will allow ministers like Reverend Dr Margaret Mayman from St Andrews on the Terrace who submitted both personally and professionally to fulfill her desire to be able to offer same sex couples the same option as different sex couples - that is, to marry or have a civil union.

I want to recognise and thank the members of the Government Administration Select Committee who have read and listened to the many submissions received. Their report is reasoned and compassionate in recognising the positions taken by those in favour and those against.

In focussing on value I am drawn to the lyrics of American musician Ben Haggerty, better known as Macklemore, in his song "Same Love" -

"And I can't change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
I can't change..."

And in voting on this Bill I hope the House will give a message to all young people. You don't have to change. You can be who you are and we, as a society, will value who you are.

Kia Ora.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell:
On The Eleanor Catton Rumpus

If anyone was in doubt about the accuracy of the comments made in India by Eleanor Catton, the reaction from some quarters here at home has gone a long way to proving her point.

By ‘some quarters’, I mean (a) RadioLive host Sean Plunket who called Catton a “traitor” and (b) Prime Minister John Key who dismissed her views as being those of a typical Green Party supporter, which is apparently almost as bad.

In context, Catton seemed to be talking about the mixed feelings she felt after what she had created suddenly becoming a kind of public property claimed by the entire country and its leaders. That must feel weird at any time, in any place. Catton evidently finds it particularly alienating when the government of the day has shown little interest in the arts beyond their promotional/economic value. More>>

 

More Rent Assistance, Less State-Owned Housing: John Key Speech - Next Steps In Social Housing

"We are going to ensure that more people get into social housing over the next three years, whether that is run by Housing New Zealand or a community provider. The social housing budget provides for around 62,000 income-related rent subsidies a year. We are committed to increasing that to around 65,000 subsidies by 2017/18, which will cost an extra $40 million a year." More>>

ALSO:

The Future Of Work: Andrew Little - State Of The Nation 2015

In 2005 when I led the EPMU we worked together with Air New Zealand to find a way to keep engineering jobs that were heading overseas. A lot of these workers were people I’d known for years and they were facing not just losing their jobs but not being able to find the kind of work they do without going overseas. A lot of people were facing personal and financial upheaval.... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Sabin Case, The Pressures On Greece And (Songs About) Coyotes

Mike Sabin is a National MP, and the current chairman of Parliament’s law and order committee. Yet reportedly, he is being investigated by the Police over an assault complaint... However, the PM will not comment on any aspect of the story. More>>

ALSO:

Houses, ISIS, King (& Catton): PM Post-Cabinet Press Conference

The Prime Minister met with reporters to discuss: • Social housing, the Auckland housing market • The prospect of joining international forces to combat ISIS • David Bain’s compensation • The lowering of the flag for the King of Saudi Arabia's death ... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Tomorrow’s Speeches By John Key And Andrew Little

The Key government has already kicked off the political year on a stridently ideological note, with Environment Minister Nick Smith choosing to lay all manner of sins at the door of the RMA. Tomorrow, the government will wheeling out its best salesman – Prime Minister John Key – to sell its plans for state housing… . More>>

ALSO:

Transport: Auckland Looks To Light Rail

The Board of Auckland Transport has called for an investigation into a light rail network, which could relieve traffic congestion on some of the region’s busiest roads. This stems from work in 2012 (the City Centre Future Access study) which responded to a government request to develop a robust and achievable solution for access to the CBD. More>>

ALSO:

RMA: Smith's Claims Don't Match Evidence - Greens

The Motu group’s research into the impacts of planning rules looked at the costs related to housing development but not the benefits of environmental protections and does not recommend significant changes to the RMA to reduce the cost of new house builds. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news