Editorial: Right to be recognised

Two women or two men live in the same house, love each other and share their lives. It should not matter to the rest of us whether they are married, recognised under civil law as a couple, or just partners. Just as it should not matter whether they are vegetarians or watch Coronation Street.

What does matter is that they are contributing, caring people who pay taxes and generally add value to the community they are in. Should they be lucky enough to have children, their role expands to raise those youngsters in a loving, caring way to become well adjusted adults.

These are matters our MPs will face in coming months after Labour MP Louisa Wall's "marriage equality" bill was drawn from the ballot in Parliament on Thursday for a conscience vote, possibly as early as August.

"It will ensure that all New Zealanders have the right to marry regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity," Ms Walls says.

Homosexuality - and by extension, gay marriage - is a subject that draws out strong opinions at the conservative and liberal ends of the moral line but the majority in between will shrug their shoulders and pronounce themselves not to care. Gay people do not touch their lives, or their sexuality is not an issue. Live and let live, is their attitude.

Younger people are more accepting than older generations towards people who live outside the narrow channel of white, Anglo-Saxon Christian conformity. Where generations have hidden their sexual orientation for hundreds of years, gays and lesbians have become more open about themselves during the past 20 or 30 years.

It is not that there are more of them, but more are refusing to be less than honest about who they are. It is not their choice what the genetic deck has dealt them.

This legislation will not lead to the degradation of society; it will give same-sex couples the same matrimonial rights as their brothers and sisters, their neighbours and workmates.

This bill should be passed without taking up too much debating time in the House.

Because it is a conscience vote, MPs will not be required to vote along party lines, which will give voters a better indication of what their representatives actually believe - in some respects, a more important outcome than the legislation itself.

The Marlborough Express