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

 


Speech: Wall - Marriage Bill

Louisa
WALL
MP for Manurewa
17 April 2013 SPEECH
Third Reading speech – 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 third time.

Mr Speaker. My observation in my time in the House has been that there are few occasions when the public gallery is full to overflowing. This Bill has seen a full gallery at the first and second readings and again tonight. My only other experience of that has been Treaty settlement legislation recording the agreement reached between Maori and the Crown.

In both instances the parties affected are a minority group who've been marginalised. They've been dealt with unjustly under the law and steps are being taken to right the wrongs they've suffered.

And it shows me that this process matters. Having Parliament recognise and address injustices and unfairness matters to those affected by it. It's the start of a healing process.

This third reading is our road towards healing and including all citizens in our state institution of marriage regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.

While our focus has been on Aotearoa it's important to remember we are one country that's part of a global community discussing marriage equality. 12 countries have already been through this process.

The US President has declared his support unequivocally. The Queen has recently signed a Commonwealth Charter that explicitly opposes all forms of discrimination which she describes as emphasising inclusiveness. The UK, led by their Prime Minister, has introduced legislation.

But marriage equality is only one issue. There's still a lot of work to be done to address discrimination against our LGBTI communities. Closer to home many of our Pacific neighbours still criminalise homosexuality. So too in countries of our new migrant communities. We need to understand these heritage identities and how they contribute to this debate.

As the indigenous people of Aotearoa we can acknowledge that takatapui have always been part of our history and culture. And that is the case for many indigenous people around the world. Fa'afafine, akava'ine, fakaleiti and manu vahine are words that go back in time to identify LGBTI. They are part of our Pacific heritage and need to be acknowledged.

And we need to learn from history. Marriage laws have continually been used as a tool of oppression. The Nuremberg Laws in 1935 prohibited marriage between German nationals and Jews.

The South African Immorality Act and the Prohibition of Mixed Marriage Act prohibited marriage and sexual contact between races until it was repealed in 1985. 40 US states prohibited interracial marriage. Women lost all property rights and their identity on marriage.
Excluding a group in society from marriage is oppressive and unacceptable. There's no justification for the prohibitions of the past based on religion, race or gender. Today we're embarrassed and appalled by these examples.

And in every instance it was action by the State. This is not about Church teachings or philosophy. It never has been. It's about the State excluding people from the institution of marriage because of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. And that's no different from the actions taken in these historical examples.

Principles of justice and equality aren't served if the key civil institution of marriage is reserved for heterosexuals only. In the landmark Ontario decision Justice Laforme wrote and I quote:

"Any 'alternative' status that nonetheless provides for the same financial benefits as marriage in and of itself amounts to segregation. This case is about access to a deeply meaningful social institution - it is about equal participation in the activity, expression, security and integrity of marriage. Any 'alternative' to marriage, in my opinion, simply offers the insult of formal equivalency without the promise of substantive equality."

Ever since Brown versus Board of Education in 1954 the separate but equal doctrine has been seen as segregation and contrary to achieving equality.

I want to emphasise again what this Bill does NOT do. It doesn't legalise criminal offences. In fact it's clear the definition proposed in this amendment is a union of 2 people only.

It doesn't force any Minister or celebrant to marry a couple against their wishes. Section 29 remains in force and has been strengthened by the Select Committee amendment.

And it doesn't change our adoption laws. Gay couples have adopted children for many years but the law hasn't recognised that parenting reality. Children of same sex relationships haven't been allowed to have both parents names on their birth certificate. The injustice and pain of this was made clear by an email I received and I'm able to share it with the House. It reads:

"My partner and I had been together for 7 years when we decided to start a family. When our daughter was born my partner's name was on the birth certificate as her birth mother. When our daughter was 13 my partner was diagnosed with terminal cancer. We talked to our solicitor and found out that the only way that I could adopt our daughter was if the relationship with her mum was legally terminated. How could we possibly do that to a child who was faced with her mum dying? Instead I applied for, and was granted, guardianship.

When my daughter turned 18, the guardianship expired. It was only when my own parents died that it struck home with me that my daughter and I had no legal relationship despite me having been her parent all her life. We talked it over and I applied to adopt her - fortunately all this happened before she turned 20 because I believe it might then have been too late. It was the right thing to do but still hard on her - she gets a new birth certificate and her mum legally no longer exists.

This is just so ridiculous and so wrong - if your bill had been law when my partner was still alive then we could have married and our daughter would have both her parents recorded as such."
Under this Bill both women could've been spouses and recorded on their daughter’s birth certificate. Without this Bill that's a privilege limited to heterosexual married couples only.

In our society the meaning of marriage is universal - it's a declaration of love and commitment to a special person. Law that allows all people to enjoy that state is the right thing to do. Law that prohibits people from enjoying that state is just wrong. Those who celebrate religious or cultural marriage are absolutely unaffected by this Bill. That has never been part of the State's marriage law. And it never should be.
There’s another similarity between this Bill and Treaty settlement legislation - the quality and tone of the debate within this House. The debate has largely focussed on the actual issues. I believe that's the result of our effective cross party working group with Tau Henare and Kevin Hague. Conrad Reyners, national spokesperson for the Campaign for Marriage Equality was also involved and with Cameron, Jackie, Rawa, Tony, Natalie, Kurt and Andrew have kept the issue alive and relevant. I'm also grateful to Megan Campbell, Shaun Wallis and David Farrar for their support and work with MPs and my EA Mereana Ruri for helping coordinate this activity.

I would also like to acknowledge the leadership across the House - from the Prime Minister who expressed his support early on, as did the leader of the Labour Party, David Shearer. And we have seen leadership by John Banks, Peter Dunne, Hone Harawira, Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia. I also acknowledge the Greens who from the outset have taken a supportive position as a party. For them it was not a conscience vote but a manifesto commitment.

There are many individuals and groups within our communities and Churches who've continually addressed the facts and made it real. I particularly thank the youth wings of all political parties and student unions around the country. The messages have remained positive. I'm very proud to be a member of a community that has stood up to be counted with such dignity and reason.

A personal thanks to everyone who contacted me by email and through Facebook. Particularly Craig Young, and those in the community, offering support and often just saying thanks. And finally nga mihi aroha kia koutou nga Whanau. And to my darling Prue - thank you for your work and sharing this journey with me.

Nothing can counteract the very real negative consequences of not passing this Bill. But nothing could make me more proud to be a New Zealander than passing this Bill. It's an honour to represent your country and the people of New Zealand. I'm proud to be a member of this 50th Parliament that will continue New Zealand's proud human rights tradition. I thank my colleagues, for simply doing what is fair, just and right.



© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Parliament Kicks Off: Carter Re-Elected Speaker

The 51st Parliament held its commission opening today with MPs sworn in and David Carter elected Speaker.

The day began at 11am with the three Royal Commissioners – the Chief Justice, the Court of Appeal President, and the Chief High Court Judge – declaring the new Parliament open.

After the Commissioners left the Chamber the swearing in of MPs took place in alphabetical order. Unlike some previous openings all MPs managed to swear on the bible or affirm their oath without any hiccups... More>>

 

Labour: Review Team Named, Leadership Campaign Starts

Labour’s New Zealand Council has appointed Bryan Gould as Convenor of its post-General Election Review. He will be joined on the Review Team by Hon Margaret Wilson, Stacey Morrison and Brian Corban.

ALSO:


Roy Morgan Poll: National Slips, Labour Hits Lows

The first New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll since the NZ Election shows National 43.5% (down 3.54% since the September 20 Election). This isn’t unusual, National support has dropped after each of John Key’s Election victories... However, support for the main opposition Labour Party has crashed to 22.5% (down 2.63% and the lowest support for Labour since the 1914 NZ Election as United Labour). More>>

ALSO:

In On First Round: New Zealand Wins Security Council Seat

Prime Minister John Key has welcomed New Zealand securing a place on the United Nations Security Council for the 2015-16 term. More>>

ALSO:

TPP Leak: Intellectual Property Text Confirms Risk - Jane Kelsey

The US is continuing its assault on generic medicines through numerous proposed changes to patent laws. ‘These are bound to impact on Pharmac if they are accepted’, according to Professor Kelsey... Copyright is another area of ongoing sensitivity... More>>

ALSO:

RMA: Smith Plans Reform To Ease Urban Development

Newly appointed Environment Minister Nick Smith has announced Resource Management Act reform to foster urban development, where high land prices and expensive resource consents are blocking efforts to provide affordable housing. More>>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On New Zealand getting involved (again) in other people's wars

Apparently, the Key government is still pondering how New Zealand will contribute to the fight against Islamic State. Long may it ponder, given the lack of consensus among our allies as to how to fight IS, where to fight it (Syria, Iraq, or both?) and with whose ground troops, pray tell? More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On child poverty, and David Shearer’s latest outburst

The politicisation of (a) the public service and (b) the operations of the Official Information Act have been highlighted by the policy advice package on child poverty that RNZ’s resolute political editor Brent Edwards has finally prised out of the Ministry of Social Development. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On the government’s review of security laws

So the Key government is about to launch a four week review of the ability of our existing legislation to deal with “suspected and returning foreign terrorist fighters, and other violent extremists.”

According to its terms of reference, the review will consider whether the SIS, GCSB and Police are sufficiently able right now to (a) investigate and monitor suspected and returning foreign terrorist fighters… More>>

ALSO:

Labour Davids: Lisa Owen Interviews David Shearer

David Shearer still mulling whether to stand for Labour leadership but says his family doesn’t think it’s a good idea. Declares that it will be “incredibly divisive” for the Labour caucus if David Cunliffe returns to the role of leader. More>>

ALSO:

Taser Use & False Evidence: Timaru Officers "Failed To Follow Good Policing Practice"

The Authority found that even if Mr Reuben’s contact with the officer was deliberate it amounted to only a minor assault. While it found the use of the OC spray was justified, the use of the Taser was not a proportionate response... More>>

ALSO:

Little Surprise: Andrew Little To Contest Labour Leadership

I have decided to contest the Labour Party leadership. There are three immediate issues to deal with: creating greater cohesion across the caucus, rebuilding the relationship between caucus and the Party and, most importantly getting the process under way to listen to the voters who have abandoned us... More>>

ALSO:

Two Fewer Votes In Recount: "Positive Result" - Harawira

When I applied for a recount of the votes from the Tai Tokerau election, I made it clear that this application was not aimed at overturning the election result, but ensuring that all votes cast by Maori were treated with due respect, regardless of whether those votes are for Labour, Maori Party or MANA. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news