Editorial: A reality of our evolving world
JONATHON HOWE - CHIEF OF STAFF
OPINION: Despite usually having the best of intentions, our politicians and bureaucrats are often criticised for being too politically correct.
Whether its schools banning bullrush or playcentres deeming playdough to be culturally insensitive, political correctness has a negative connotation for many New Zealanders who feel it is an affront to the straightforward nature of our collective psyche. But there are times when political correctness is appropriate and there can be no greater example of this than the passing of the marriage equality bill's first reading. In Parliament this week, an overwhelming majority of 80 MPs to 40 voted in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry.
The bill still needs to be reviewed by a select committee and pass two more votes but it is heartening to see our politicians were not content to rest on the Civil Unions Bill's laurels. Prime Minister John Key has warned the debate will get "tougher and nastier", and some of this anti-gay-marriage sentiment was seen in the debating chamber. National MPs Tim Macindoe showed himself to be a true relic of a bygone era by giving a speech in which he said same-sex relationships were so "intrinsically different" they could "never be regarded as true marriage". Some groups, such as Family First, have staunchly defended the right to maintain the existing definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. Family First was quick to point that this view was not entrenched in homophobia, but one has to ask why they so vehemently oppose a revision.
Surely it's just semantics to redefine marriage to include same sex couples?
The assertion by Family First's national director Bob McCoskrie that a definition change could lead to the legalisation of polygamy, and adult incest relationships, is nonsense. Definitions are changed, merged and replaced all the time. It's a reality of the evolving world we live in, and it is ludicrous to infer same-sex marriages would act as a gateway for such deviance.
There has also been criticism from religious sectors about the bill damaging the sanctity of marriage. It is important we respect the right of religious groups to hold beliefs, even if some view homosexuality as a perversion.
But we are a secular nation and the laws of our land are not dictated by religion. If the thought of a same-sex marriage is so abhorrent to churchgoers, the Human Rights Commission has said religious officials and leaders would be free to refuse to perform marriages not in accordance with their beliefs.
Same-sex marriage won't force opponents to engage with its practice but it will please a significant part of our population. You can't ask for much more of a compromise than that.
- © Fairfax NZ News