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Copeland highlights MPs' double-talk

Thursday, 8 December 2005

Copeland highlights MPs' double-talk

United Future MP Gordon Copeland today named 11 MP's who voted against his Marriage Bill in Parliament last night, despite having previously said they supported its central provision of making marriage a union only between a man and a woman.

The MP's are Labour's David Benson-Pope, Chris Carter, Dave Hereora, Moana Mackey, David Parker, Tim Barnett, Paul Swain and Darren Hughes, Brian Donnelly of New Zealand First, Nandor Tanczos of the Greens and National's Pansy Wong.

"During the debate on the Civil Unions Bill, every one of these MP's told Parliament they supported the traditional view of marriage being solely between a man and woman," said Mr Copeland.

"Yet when they had the opportunity to put their vote where their mouth is on last night's conscience vote, they failed to walk the talk.

"Voters who supported those parties in the hope of halting the social re-engineering of New Zealand have every right to feel betrayed," concluded Mr Copeland.

Attached: Hansard extracts

Civil Unions Bill and Members of Parliament

Relevant comments

24 June 2004

· Chris Carter (Labour) The irony is that this bill does not allow couples like Peter and I to marry. I am often asked whether I am comfortable with this and, actually, I am. I accept that marriage has a traditional and religious heritage, which is why our churches are so protective of it. I recognise that those churches often cannot include same-sex couples in their world views. Therefore, I accept that it could be difficult for the State to apply the institution of marriage to same-sex couples until the majority of our religions have done so. Having said that, I utterly reject the idea that the State cannot create an alternative way of recognising couples be they straight or gay like Peter and I who wish to make a different, public, legal expression of their relationship. (p13940).

· Brian Donnelly (New Zealand First) During the debate on the Property (Relationships) Amendment Bill I argued there were three categories of sexual relationships: the forbidden such as incest and paedophilia; the accepted, tolerated, and legal such as casual, de facto, or same-sex relationships; and the preferred in other words, marriage.

My opposition to the Property (Relationships) Amendment Bill was based on the fact that all legal relationships, including marriage, were being brought down to the same denominator. I felt that those different relationships should have been treated separately. The Property (Relationships) Amendment Bill is an example of what happens when we deny a group of people who are in legal relationships any way of publicly expressing that relationship.

I believe that this Civil Union Bill, rather than diminish the law's recognition of marriage as a special relationship between a man and a woman, will service to protect that relationship as the preferred form of relationship. The alternative is to have marriage morph into other relationships to the stage where it is legally considered to be no more preferable than a one-night stand. That would be hugely detrimental to the well-being of our society. (p13946).

2 December 2004

· Dave Hereora (Labour) One of the reasons I support it is simply that I believe this bill is not about gay marriage. Marriage remains sorely available to a man and a woman. This bill is in no way undermining marriage or altering the Marriage Act. (p.17403).

7 December 2004

· Moana Mackey (Labour) I understand why people who are religious do not want the Marriage Act to be changed ? I understand that entirely. I also understand the number of heterosexual and same-sex couples who came to the select committee and said that the institution of marriage does not uphold their beliefs, because it says that same-sex couples cannot enter into it.

That is not something I believe in; that is something, in fact, that I find very, very abhorrent to my own personal views. For that reason, I would like a civil union, which is a secular, neutral, new institution, which shows that my values can be upheld, as well as those of my same-sex friends who are in long-term relationships and want to have them formalised (p17444).

· Nandor Tanczos (Greens) Polls indicate that while gay marriage is not supported by the majority of New Zealanders, most of us do appear to support civil unions or something like that. I think in that sense the numbers in this Committee probably reflect, to quite a large degree, public opinion. (p17454).

· David Parker (Labour) Many in those religious institutions say that marriage should remain the province of a union of a man and a woman. I agree. That is why we are not doing this through the Marriage Act, because that would be to undermine the institution of marriage in the eyes of those who see it, in religious terms, as being the sole preserve of a man and a woman. So it would be inappropriate to do it by way of amendment to the Marriage Act, and it is appropriate to do it outside of that paradigm, through civil union. (p17461).

· Tim Barnett (Labour) I would be very clear, were I to go through a civil union, that I would not be entering a gay marriage. I would be entering into a civil union a legal recognition process that was for me, and also for my heterosexual friends, a united process absolutely separate from marriage. People in the lesbian and gay communities are not asking for marriage, they are asking for just some of those elements, and I think that is very well delivered in the civil union legislation. (p17480).

· David Parker (Labour) Dr Smith and Mr English have both made reference to an issue that Stephen Franks has raised previously about how we should not be automatically conferring on de facto relationships rights that should be reserved for, or opted into through, marriage or civil union.

Those members say through marriage only; I say through marriage or civil union. I actually agree with that point. I think that most of us do think that there is something special about some relationships symbolised in some way by an official recognition of a long-term relationship, and that we ought not automatically give the same rights to all de facto relationships. (p17494).

· Tim Barnett (Labour) Very sensibly, I think, the decision was made to leave marriage untouched and instead set up a separate institution called civil union, which certainly should be open to same-sex couples and have the same basic elements as marriage. (p17499).

· Paul Swain (Labour) I voted against this bill as it was introduced, primarily because I was opposed, and am still opposed, to anything that implies gay marriage. As I say, I am still very strongly opposed to gay marriage. But I have looked into this matter quite a lot. I have done quite a lot of further study, talked to a lot of people, and come to the conclusion that this is not gay marriage.

The Marriage Act has not been altered. Marriage is still between a man and a woman a husband and a wife. (p17531). In summary, civil unions are not marriage; they are not gay marriage. I need to indicate that if there had been any changes to the Marriage Act, I would have opposed that. If such legislation comes before Parliament I would oppose it, and I make that point quite clear. (p17531).

· Pansy Wong (National) If this bill had made amendments to the Marriage Act to make room for same-gender couples, I would not have supported it. (p17592).

· Darren Hughes (Labour) The Government was very clear that it would protect marriage and that it would be available only to men and women in heterosexual relationships, because of some of the very specific concerns that members have been raising in this debate about the institution of marriage. The Government went away and looked at creating a new institution of civil union that would be open not just to heterosexual de facto couples but also to same-sex couples. This has not been done as some great attack on marriage, yet a number of MPs have only been able to talk about marriage, as though somehow this bill is an amendment to the Marriage Act. (p17598).


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