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Maxim Institute - real issues - No. 107

Maxim Institute - real issues - No. 107

Contents: --------- *

Civil Unions - You won't get there from here

* Education - Parental involvement on the rise

* The Right to Life - A new survey reveals our confusion over human rights

* Change Agents Workshop This Saturday - On the Kapiti Coast

Civil Unions - You won't get there from here

The government is on the offensive to promote the Civil Union Bills and to portray as scare-mongering any suggestions that the Bills are an assault on marriage. All before the Bills have been released.

Two things stand out. The government is debating the issue on human rights grounds, totally sidelining the role that marriage plays in all cultures. And it is keeping very quiet about the second Bill, which is in fact the more damaging of the two.

The second Bill (nicknamed the "Omnibus" Bill) will rewrite some 160 pieces of legislation, eliminating the terms "husband", "wife" and "marriage" and extending the word "spouse" to cover same-sex relationships. Under this Bill, all relationships, whether opposite-sex or same-sex, married, civil union or de facto - will have exactly the same entitlements.

However you spin it, civil unions is same-sex marriage. Helen Clark made it clear in an interview with Express (11.02.04) that she considers civil unions to be marriage by another name. "The Omnibus Bill will take out any discrimination, so [the Marriage Act] will not have any practical effect", the purpose being to "treat people as equals regardless of marital relations".

By rendering all relationships equal, marriage between a man and a woman will cease to have any special significance. At the stroke of a pen, marriage's ability to positively shape the next generation through policy and law, will be thoroughly changed, into a private arrangement of no social consequence. In our own best interests, every New Zealander should work to protect and promote marriage as a bedrock institution, most of all the government which, has a responsibility to protect the foundation of Civil Society.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=107.1

Education - Parental involvement on the rise

The future of many local schools is looking bright, if the recent Board of Trustees elections are anything to go by.

Maxim Institute was recently contacted by the Principal of a decile 3 school in South Auckland who was surprised but thrilled with the level of parental involvement in the recent Board of Trustees elections. In the past, this school has received 5-6 nominations from parents and sometimes failed to fill all the vacancies. However, this year the school received a record 13 nominations from "top quality" parents.

Education is primarily the responsibility of parents and it is encouraging to see more parents becoming involved with their local school. Thank you to all those who took the initiative to get involved. This is excellent news for the future of local schools.

Parents now have another opportunity to help shape the future of schooling in New Zealand. The Ministry of Education has released a discussion document on the future of schooling in New Zealand which aims to provide a framework for the next five years. This is an important document and it is easy to have your say. There are seven short questions to respond to, and you can download the discussion document at http://www.schoolingstrategy.govt.nz Responses can be emailed to the Ministry and must be completed by the end of May 2004.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=107.2

The Right to Life - A new study reveals our confusion over human rights

A new survey, commissioned by Right to Life and carried out by A C Nielsen, reports that more than 60 percent of those who responded believe New Zealand law should protect the rights of an unborn child. If this study is representative, the majority of us believe that human life, regardless of whether it is wanted, or of a particular quality, is worthy of legal protection.

Contrast this with the arguments of the proponents of euthanasia. If we are to be consistent with our beliefs about life and law, Lesley Martin's mother was also worthy of legal protection, not because her life was wanted or even useful, but because she was human.

A fundamental question arises. Where do human rights come from? Our answer depends on our understanding of what it means to be a human being. Either rights are derived from dignity bestowed upon us by the transcendent, or they are transient - doled out by the state. Ultimately, the question is that simple.

Article eight of New Zealand's Bill of Rights Act holds the state to be the source of rights. "No one shall be deprived of life except on such grounds as are established by law and are consistent with the principles of fundamental justice" - ie, your right not to be deprived of life exists only as long as the law says so.

Dr Margaret Sparrow of the Abortion Law Reform Association echoes this ideology: "Sixty percent of people may agree that laws should protect an unborn child, but that doesn't mean that they don't think women should have a choice." By that does she mean the choice to take human life?

Either human life is of no value unless it is wanted or complies with some unstable state created criteria, OR all human life is valuable and worthy of legal protection. For more on this survey visit www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,2882264a11,00.html

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=107.3

Change Agents Workshop This Saturday - On the Kapiti Coast - Do you live near the Kapiti Coast? Then come be informed and equipped to help create positive change in your community on issues such as prostitution, education, same-sex marriage and euthanasia. The Change Agent workshop will run this Saturday, April 24, from 10.00am - 1.00pm, at the Kapiti Community Centre, 15 Ngahina Street, Paraparaumu. $10 cover charge. For more information visit http://www.maxim.org.nz/ca/A4_poster.jpg

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - William Goldman, "The Princess Bride"

Life isn't fair. It's just fairer than death, that's all.

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