Prime Minister John Key has hit back at a leaflet saying he is ''too gay'' to represent his Helensville electorate, saying: ''We live in a world where equality is pretty important.''
The Conservative Party has distributed 20,000 leaflets in Key's electorate calling for voters to speak out against a members' bill by Labour MP Louisa Wall which would legalise gay marriage and adoption.
In an accompanying letter, Conservatives leader Colin Craig quotes one resident saying: ''Colin you should stand here because John Key is too gay for Helensville''.
Key supported the bill's first reading and has said he would support the bill's passage through Parliament.
The prime minister this morning dismissed the comment, saying: ''Give me a break.''
There were a range of views in every electorate on the subject.
''I suspect there's an awful lot of support for what I'm doing in the electorate,'' he told Radio Live.
Key said there had been ''three or four'' calls to his electorate office by voters concerned about his stance but ''nothing spectacular''.
The ''sky didn't cave in'' when civil unions were introduced. ''Some people have strong views that this is a step too far. A whole lot of other people will say 'well, civil union, marriage'... they may see it as a fairly similar thing.''
Key said he had been forced to marry wife Bronagh outside in a garden. She is an Irish Catholic and he has a Jewish background.
''(That's) quite different from a traditional marriage that other people might have traditionally had.''
Craig today defended using the quote, saying it was a reflection of what some voters thought.
''It is certainly the comment that got me thinking where John Key was on this issue and where the electorate was. People express themselves in different ways. I've heard lots of people express themselves on this debate in ways that I wouldn't.''
Helensville was more conservative than other electorates, Craig conceded.
For the first time, Key was not voting in accordance with his electorate on a conscience issue, he said. ''That's a change in the game.''
Key had voted against civil unions and has said changed his vote to vote against prostitution reform after feedback from his electorate.
The Conservatives hired Research First to poll Helensville voters on the issue of gay marriage and gay adoption.
About 89 per cent said their MP should consult their electorate over conscience votes and vote the way voters wanted them to, it found.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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