So you would’ve heard the news by now that Labour MP’s Louisa Wall’s bill was drawn from the members’ bill ballot today. What Bill, you ask? Well the “Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill” of course. The one that would effectively ‘legalise same-sex marriage’.
Right there on the first page of the Amendment, it actually explains that while this Bill will amend the Marriage Act 1955, there is actually nothing in the original bill that makes reference to a marriage being between a man and a woman. So really this Bill is to just ‘make it clear’, legally speaking that is.
Andrew Cunningham (president of LegaliseLove) said it the best: “Now that politicians don’t have the option to ignore the issue, we are confident that the vote will come down on the side of love and equality”
The discussions and debate around this Bill should gravitate around equality. (In fact it is pretty great to see that the hashtag of choice seems to be #marriagequality) As Robyn Harper (@RobynHarperGGR) so eloquently puts it in her blog, “We are pursuing marriage equality as a human right, not as a gay right”. Phrasing it as “Gay Marriage” will imply that the marriages of same sex couples will be somehow legally different from those of opposite-sex couples. Our own legislation from 1955 already legally says that they are not. There is no definition of sexual orientation in the original Act, just that in practice, no marriage licenses have ever been issued. This Bill will serve to cement that right into NZ legislation.
So, while the debate starts to heat up, as inevitably it will, consider this… equality will not threaten existing marriages. The so-called ‘institution of marriage’ is in no danger, we are NOT redefining the marriage, we are merely making it available to everyone. Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights already extended this to everyone…by virtue of being a human being, you have the right to get married (if you want to). We’re not even changing our existing Legislation, we are merely further defining it for clarity sake.
It really is a no-brainer… isn’t it?