Time to speak up on same-sex marriage

Last updated 13:29 30/08/2012

We are the generation of future marriages and there is no doubt the outcome of the Marriage Amendment Bill will affect us, our friends and members of our families.

The parliamentary debate on this Bill will be intense and a lot of what our generation will hear will be from those who are already married. It is our responsibility to make sure that the younger voices, however varied, are heard.

Wednesday's historic vote has left a bitter taste in the mouths of some. Many are asking why "gay people" can't be content with the Civil Union Act of 2004.

My hypothetical girlfriend and I could have a civil union, but we all know that a Louis Vuitton knock-off is not the same as the real thing. It may seem the same, but it's not, and deep down we know it's just a cheap rip-off, designed to make us feel like we are fitting in.
These marriage knock-offs also mean the couple cannot enjoy the same legal rights as those in wedded bliss.

 Included in this is the ability to adopt a child.

Those who oppose marriage equality would have you believe "gay" parents would be  damaging to a child.
What sort of damage? Because it's hard to believe those who fight so hard to have a child in their family would ever inflict deadly head injuries on their three-month old twins.  Unlike some.

 Gender does not exclude or guarantee stability, nor does traditional marriage. The ability to adopt should be decided on character, rather than the sexual orientation of the couple.

Family First this week claimed "gay marriage" undermines the church, and that church ministers could be regarded as criminals for refusing to marry same-sex couples. This claim comes from lawyer Ian Bassett, who some of you may remember from Family First's anti-abortion campaigns.

Louisa Wall has always maintained the church will still have the choice to decide who they marry. If a minister doesn't want to marry same-sex couples in the church, then those fabulous gay weddings will go elsewhere.
Marriage existed before the church, and continues to exist outside of the church. The ancient Greeks and Romans conducted heterosexual and homosexual marriages before the rise of Christianity, and to this day couples get married in the garden with a celebrant, rather than in the church with a minister.

 Same-sex marriages are likely to take place in parks, on beaches, and in ceremonies that will not differ from what is already an established norm.

During the debate people will be told that "the government has more important things to be concerned about than gay marriage''. Yes, we have children living in poverty and yes, the asset sale debate is incredibly important. Those in favour of the Marriage Amendment Bill appreciate this and expect those issues to be looked into as well. Some of them are even involved in the process, like Green MP Kevin Hague, who campaigns against asset sales and is also a keen supporter of the marriage Bill.

However, those who choose to argue there is "something else more important" than this debate are simply attempting to justify their bigotry.

Did I miss the memo? Is there is some sort of quota that means only the issues that affect the highest number of people can be debated by the politicians we pay to take care of our country? Heck, if that's the case you may as well wave goodbye to initiatives like Whanau Ora.

Fighting for equality has never been easy. History tells us the road to change is paved with pain, but it's a road worth travelling. Just ask the suffragettes or Rosa Parks.

If the Bill does pass, those in opposition will notice very little change in  their day-to-day living. No one will take away the rights of straight people, churches will remain unchanged, people will not demand to marry their goats and heterosexual marriage won't suddenly mean less than it did the previous week.

While the lives of those in opposition will remain unchanged the lives of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer people will change for the better. Why? Simply because they will be given freedom of choice. That's the only change that will take place; their ability to choose to get married if they so desire.

That new-found freedom will send a positive message to youth who are struggling with their sexuality. Equal rights are a nod of acceptance from a society that once criminalised them for who they loved.

To wed or not to wed is a decision the ancient Greeks made for themselves, a decision religious people make for themselves and a decision you make for yourself. It should be a decision that every single person in our country has the ability and the right to make.

As the generation potentially affected by this Bill, your opinions, however different they may be, deserve to be heard. This debate cannot be fought solely by those who are already married. The voices of the future, the ones who will live with the outcome, must have equality.

- Taranaki

Post a comment
Johann Go   #1   07:03 am Aug 31 2012

A very well written article!

If we were to look at this Bill "literally" it boils down to making one change to the current Civil Union Act and that is the ability for same-sex couples to adopt children. This is likely to become even more of a contentious issue and could potentially be the difference between marriage equality being legalised or not.

That being said, there is a lot same-sex parents can offer to children. One of the most important things to realise is that LGBT parents literally CHOOSE to become parents. There is basically no chance of an unwanted pregnancy and therefore an unwanted child. As a result, the parents who decide to adopt the child will be committed to their role.

Here's an interesting article from the New Scientist magazine showing research that indicates children of lesbian parents perform better in all aspects of life than their peers. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19014-children-of-lesbian-parents-do-better-than-their-peers.html

As much as the marriage equality bill is about "marriage" and the formal recognition of our relationships, the positive implications transcend this aspect of the Bill. As the article described, we will be sending out a message of acceptance and equality. This is particularly vital for young people who may be struggling with their sexual or gender identity.

Hamish   #2   07:27 am Aug 31 2012

I had a dream that my future daughter and I had a fight about her adventurous escapades with a horse. "But daddy, I love him!" Not saying its the same at all. Just a funny story I wanted to share. :)

Joni   #3   11:47 am Aug 31 2012

A fantastic read. Here's hoping that this current debate prompts more voices like yours x

Joanne   #4   12:37 pm Aug 31 2012

So well-written - a delight to read!

Donald   #5   12:46 pm Aug 31 2012

Why don't they just modify the adoption act to include civil unions and be done with it?

KIm   #6   12:52 pm Aug 31 2012

The very best read on this topic , well in a very long time. Shows great thought and hopefully will give some more thoughts.

Everyone will have an opinion on this but I hope the ones most heard are the ones it affects the most !!!! Not old politically deranged humans , who have opinions for many decades ago and have forgot to look out of their mansions to see times have changed. In my humble opinion , I wish with my old heart that we change, because love is for the better, love is for all. Not those who hold the paperwork.

ireadafictionusbook2   #7   01:20 pm Aug 31 2012

why would we give any weight to the argument of the church?this is a brain washed cult who talk to imaginary friends in the sky! this whole debate is a waste of time and money as this really should be taken care of by basic human rights. We should need a vote and a law change to allow people to make their own decisions and of course we have to give weight to what affects the most people we have limited resources and time.

tom   #8   01:27 pm Aug 31 2012

The probability of marriage leads to the reality of divorce.A man marries a man then divorces him for a woman and divorces her and marries another woman and later settles down with another man.We are talking about people and this is a possible reality .People bond with other people and are strongly led by the wishes of the other party as well as their demography and psychography .Often it the dominant party inflicting marriage on the other party .I do not think bonding is a gender issue .A good percentage of people agree to marry simply because the other party gives them an ultimatum.

Michael   #9   01:27 pm Aug 31 2012

Donald #5 agreed... Although I think if they did that, there would be a massive 'failure in democratic process' uproar... But yes I wish it would be that simple.

Rebekah   #10   02:31 pm Aug 31 2012

I dont see how this law will change the adoption rights of Gay couples. wont they still be at the bottom of the list? From what i understand there are so few children to adopt in NZ that they will probably go to hetrosexual couples who cant have children before others. The only way i see the the change in law will work for gay couples is when they adopt a family members child.

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