How not to have a public debate on gay marriage

Carolyn Moynihan
1 Mar 2013
Reproduced with Permission

A select committee of the New Zealand parliament has reported back this week after dealing with submissions on a bill intended to allow same-sex couples to marry -- and the report has caused barely a ripple in the major media because they have tried to bury it. The New Zealand Herald, the country's largest paper, gave it two-thirds of one column on page 10 of the print edition yesterday -- and misreported facts about the numbers of submissions.

The committee report said:

We received 21,533 submissions on this bill. We considered that 18,635 of these submissions replicated content in a very similar manner; 10,487 were in favour of the bill and 8,148 were against the bill.

The NZ Herald said both online and in print:

The committee received 21,533 submissions on the bill, 2898 of which had unique content.

Of the submissions, 10,487 were in favour and 8148 against.

It doesn't even add up! What we want to know is the breakdown of the unique submissions.

Also it was left to lobby group Family First to point out to its subscribers (most media refuse to report this) that the proposed marriage certificate drops the terms "husband" and "wife" and "bride" and Bridegroom", a matter of considerable interest to ordinary Kiwis, one would have thought. We'll soon be following Spain and have official forms which refer to "progenitors" rather than fathers and mothers, says FF director Bob McCoskrie. Also he points out:

"Ironically, the proposed new form still asks for the 'mother' and 'father' of the parties getting married, which will not be appropriate with same-sex couples. They cannot even keep up with their own social engineering."

The committee heard oral submiisions on only a little over 200 of the unique submissions in the six month period allowed for the whole submission, hearing and reporting process -- this is a rush job to get it done and dusted before the next general election. The committee's report itself is a minimalist, lazy document that does not begin to do justice to the substantial issues raised by submitters.

It contains the erroneous generalisation: "Opponents of the bill argue marriage is not a human right." Rubbish. My submission opposing it said nothing of the sort. Of course marriage is a human right -- the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says so, but homosexual relationships are incapable of being marriage. There can be no right to something a person or persons are simply incapable of doing.

The latest poll has shown that only 47 percent of New Zealanders support same-sex marriage. That is still more than the 43 percent who consider civil unions sufficient, but it hardly amounts to a popular mandate.