Views divided on marriage equality bill ahead of vote
Waikato MPs say their constituents divided in halfLOUISE RISK
Wedding bells could be one step closer to ringing for gay couples from tomorrow, but church bells will not be chiming in unison.
If local votes are anything to go by, Louisa Wall's marriage equality bill is likely to pass its first reading, but church representatives remain united in their stance against the proposal.
Feedback from Waikato politicians is that their constituents were divided roughly in half on the debate, and age seemed to be the most likely indicator of how a person might vote.
National Hamilton West MP Tim Macindoe said most of the feedback he had received had been against the bill, but there was a "clear generational divide".
"If there was a referendum of people roughly 40 and older, [the bill] would fail."
He said the opposite was true of the under 40-year-old crowd.
The theory held true with the Young Nationals, Young Labour, Young Greens, Mana Rangatahi and Act on Campus issuing a joint statement yesterday urging all their MPs to vote in favour of the bill.
Hamilton-based Labour MP Sue Moroney said she had supported the bill from early on, so she felt she had not had as much feedback on it as she would have if she was undecided.
Kathrine Fraser, president of the Celebrants Association of New Zealand, said they had recently conducted a survey of all registered celebrants in New Zealand to find out the level of support for the bill.
"The vast majority are supportive," Ms Fraser said.
Many were already registered to perform civil unions, so they had already made the conscious decision to support same-sex relationships.
Having performed numerous civil unions herself, she did not see that same-sex couples' "loving, caring relationships" deserved any less official acknowledgment than those of heterosexual couples.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Anglican and the Catholic churches were all opposed to same-sex marriages, and would not have them in their churches.
Speaking on behalf of the New Zealand Catholics Bishops Conference, Simone Olsen said there was no support for same-sex couples to be married in a Catholic church.
"The short answer would be no."
Mrs Olsen said the bishops were preparing a submission which would be given to the select committee if the bill passed its first reading.
The Catholic Church's main areas of concern were potentially dramatically altering the family structure, that children had the right to a father and a mother, that there was a question to be asked about legislating for a new family unit "norm" and that other legal avenues already existed for same sex couples to publicly commit.
Anglican Church media officer Lloyd Ashton said they would remain opposed to same-sex marriages in their churches until at least 2014 when the next General Synod would meet and discuss the matter. Mr Ashton said a special commission had already started and that there were people on both sides of the argument within the church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Elder Wickman wrote on their website that marriage was neither a matter of politics, nor was it a matter of social policy.
"There is no such thing in the Lord's eyes as something called same-gender marriage.
"Homosexual behaviour is and will always remain before the Lord an abominable sin."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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