Same-Sex Marriage Legalised In New Zealand

The New Zealand parliament has passed a bill with a fairly large majority (77:44) in favour of same-sex marriage, the first country in the continent of Oceania to do so. The bill amends the 1955 marriage act and led to celebrations across the country, particularly in the capital, Wellington. One way they expressed their happiness was by singing a New Zealand love song called “Pokarekare Ana”. The Labour MP who introduced the bill (Louisa Wall) said that the bill enabled “declaration of love and commitment to a special person”.

However, according to polls, approximately  one-third of citizens opposed the bill – most notably, christian lobby groups. Bob McCoskrie, the founder of one christian lobby group, Family First, said the amendment to the marriage act undermined the traditional concept of marriage. Whilst Colin Craig, the conservative party leader, stated that New Zealand is “seeing the politicians make a decision… that the people of this country wouldn’t make”.

Worldwide, same-sex marriage has been on the agenda. We recently made a post on the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Uruguay and another post on the ‘ban’ of same-sex marriage in Hungary. In Australia, their neighbouring country, they voted overwhelmingly against a similar bill. The UK continue to not allow same-sex marriage, although civil partnerships are allowed, and in the United States nine states have legalised it (but it seems more states will soon follow). In total there are now 13 countries who have legalised same-sex marriage:


Thanks for reading

Digestible Politics

15 comments on “Same-Sex Marriage Legalised In New Zealand

  1. psipsinasays says:

    My housemate is from NZ and she was telling me all about their governmental structure- it’s pretty progressive. I am so pleased for the people of NZ.

    On a side note, fascinating blog, friend.

  2. KittyChile says:

    About bloody time is all I can say. I watched the video, and almost cried. And then laughed when the speaker at the end said (loosely paraphrased) “Order! Order! Ah, bugger it, we’ll resume tomorrow”

    As for “traditional”, pah. Traditionally, women raised the kids while men went to work. Traditionally, certain groups (african-descent, poor, etc) were servant-class. Traditionally, women who got pregnant outside of marriage were “sent away”. Traditional does NOT equal “right”.

    I’m a gay Christian, I can see both sides of the argument. My view is that whatever your beliefs about marriage, you have no right preventing someone else from marrying because of them.

    I just hope Aus follows suit soon. I’d love to marry my girlfriend one day.

  3. It should be understood that in the United States, the citizens have always overwhelmingly voted against same sex “marriage”. The states where it is legal have made it legal either through the legislative process or through the courts. Every popular election held on the subject has seen Americans vote against legalizing it. I suspect, despite the media coverage to the contrary, that would still be the case today.

    The reasons for this are fairly straight-forward. Polls show that a bare majority of Americans would tolerate civil unions, making a distinction between the homosexual relationship and traditional marriage, but we object to the two being equated. They aren’t the same and for a country that has a long cultural history of Christian belief, calling them the same sits uncomfortably even with people who don’t go to church. It seems that less than 5% of the population should not be allowed to destroy the most-time-honored traditions of the other 95%.

    I sense some libertarian leanings in your posts, which is fine by me. A better way to go would be for government not to be involved in “marriage” at all. Government is not a sanctifying body — it’s a political institution. Getting government out of the way would leave the question of sanctity up to churches and secular organizations to decide. People would have their ceremony before family and friends and sign a civil partnership contract that would be drawn up by a lawyer. Here in the US, we already have mat-form legal documents available for low prices — just fill in the blank. These could be developed for civil partnerships. Of course, I believe the government should not be in the business of doling out benefits to anyone, but if entitlements survive the coming economic collapse that they are bringing about, they should be given out on an individual basis, which gets around that whole question of civil partnerships. Companies that want to provide benefits to civil partnerships would be free to do so and those that do not wish to do so, wouldn’t be forced to do so.

    Of course, that’s not what’s going to happen. I’m going to be legally required to call a homosexual relationship equivalent to my marriage and, I predict, my pastor will eventually be banned from conducting marriages at all unless he (and my church) agree to conduct homosexual unions. We won’t, so Christians will be the ones who will now be denied marriage since we will refuse to disobey God’s law in order to fulfill man’s law.

    • reecemjones says:

      Well see, my thoughts on the matter is how does someone else getting married affect your life? The answer: it doesn’t really. “Tradition” as KittyChile put so well, doesn’t mean it makes things right. Surely, the government should make the same sex marriage legal so then it can define it as separate from the religious version? Then no-one has to be bothered as religious people can still have their marriages free from whatever “other” they are scared of this week.

      Or is that a bad thing? I mean, less than 50 years ago it was considered a ‘bad thing’ for mixed race people to get married. Are you really saying that its cool to deny people basic equality because the ‘majority of people’ (which can mean anything dependent on the statistics used) believe that that sort of prejudice is fine? Really?

      By the way, I’m not bashing your beliefs. If you don’t like the thought of gay people, thats your bag and your views. Doesn’t mean you should get to decide how those people can live their lives though. Especially if you live in the “land of the free, of truth and justice”.

    • kat170 says:

      Completely though respectfully disagree. I just fail to see how gay marriage “destroys” heterosexual marriage, to use your word. Can’t see how it has any bearing on heterosexual marriage at all, actually.

    • Caleb Gee says:

      ..but Christians haven’t actually “obeyed God’s law” since the beginning of time, only select parts of it and when it best suits their capitalist interests. Of course that’s not every Christian, but it certainly covers a great deal. I challenge you to look into the entire history of Christianity and its ties with European colonialism.

      • Caleb — I am family with the history of a movement that called itself Christianity. That was not Biblical Christianity. I challenge you to look into the Bible and come to understand what it teaches. That is the only Christianity that I am interested in.

  4. awbraae says:

    Hi, from New Zealand, so perhaps I can offer some background.

    This is the third time legislation has been passed in favour of allowing greater rights for homosexuals. In the 80s homosexuality was legalised, to dire predictions of the sky falling and society breaking down. It didn’t happen, obviously.

    In 2005 legislation was passed allowing homosexuals to enter into ‘civil unions’, basically legally recognised marriages that are technically not marriages. Again, a group of people feared for the godliness of the nation, but fewer this time than in the 80s. By and large civil unions have been stable, and have had a reasonably low separation rate.

    By the time this one has rolled around, the fight has largely gone out of the conservative groups who opposed rights for homosexuals. The vast majority according to most polls aren’t strongly in favour of marriage equality, more that they can’t see any reason why it shouldn’t go ahead. A small proportion of the country has basically pushed this bill through to quite minimal opposition, compared to what it might seem in the media. There have been very few protests against compared to both earlier changes, and it has mostly come from groups that are quite fringe. The Conservative Party that you mentioned polls about 2-3%, and Bob McCroskie of Family First is widely regarded as a nutbag.

    Where the opposition in Parliament has come from is mainly from rural MPs from the National Party (equivalent to the Conservatives in Britain) who actually have something to lose by voting for marriage equality. By and large, people in their electorates don’t much care either way, but the small numbers of people who oppose marriage equality fervently tend to be both supporters of those electorate MPs so by voting against they play to their activist base, rather than their voting base necessarily.

    Simply put, the numbers of both people supporting and people against are misleadingly soft. My personal view is that it is a good legislative change, but the view of most in the country is one of not really giving a toss. In truth, not much is changed by this bill relative to the earlier Civil Unions of 2005. It is unlikely to still be an election issue in 18 months, I think it is likely the electorate as a whole will have moved on, except for a few small pockets on either side.

  5. Yahooooooooooooooooooo! New Zealand!

  6. What is “traditional marriage” and where do we draw the line? Do we permit incestuous marriages? Do we permit child marriage? Every society has its taboos. What is taboo in one society is not necessarily taboo in another society. In ancient Greece, homosexual relationships were not only permitted, they were even encouraged. In ancient Egypt, it was acceptable for the Pharaoh to marry his sister. Likewise, the king in ancient Persia commonly married his sister. The only almost universally accepted taboo, as far as I have been able to discover, was that on mother-son incest. So where do we draw the line today? If we say that only the 2 people concerned have the right to decide and that the government shouldn’t interfere, should we then allow fathers to marry their daughters? Should we allow 50 year old men to marry 6 year old girls? Or 9-year old girls? Or 12 year-old girls? Should we allow polygamy? Polyandry? Should the state go so far as to criminalise certain relationships or should the state merely refrain from bestowing its “seal of approval” on them? Why should homosexuals be allowed to marry but a mother can’t marry her son or a brother his sister? We have to recognise that laws don’t exist in a vacuum.

    • Equally, why isn’t opposite sex marriage illegal? With your logic it is hard to tell.

      • Considering the original purpose of the institution of marriage, as a bond sanctioned by the State and by Society, I can’t think of any earthly reason why it should be illegal. But, in any case, I was neither supporting nor condemning same-sex marriages, as you and others appear (mistakenly) to assume. I was merely asking rhetorical questions – because the matter is not nearly as simple as either the supporters or the opponents of same-sex marriage seem to think.
        I would also add – I’ve noticed that the supporters of either side appear to be extraordinarily sensitive to any imagined criticism of their position. Either you’re 100% with them – or you’re perceived to be against them.

    • Caleb Gee says:

      That’s easy, in the case of 50-years olds marrying 6-year olds and all the other hypotheticals your brain can suddenly come up with, a 6 year old IS NOT MENTALLY ABLE TO MAKE THAT CHOICE AND IS IN FACT BEING ABUSED. In a consensual gay relationship, nobody is being hurt one bit and especially NOT you. It really isn’t that hard to wrap your head around. The disgusting tactic of trying oh-so-subtly to equate gay people with child-molesters is ignorant and prejudiced to say the least and it’s just that sort of demagoguery one must resort to when they can’t come up with any good reasoning.

      • I wasn’t trying to equate anything with anything, Caleb. You should have read the WHOLE of my comment. I was merely trying to point out that the question is not nearly as simple as the supporters of same-sex marriages are trying to make out. As far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out on this one. Now, it’s true that in a consensual homosexual relationship, (unlike a marriage between a 50 year old man and a 6 year old girl), no-one is being hurt. On the other hand, the same thing could be said of consenting siblings who are of full age. Who is being hurt in such a relationship? So, should we then permit brothers and sisters to marry? Fathers and daughters? Mothers and sons?And what about polygamy and polyandry? Should that also be legal? If 6 women agree to be married to the same man – why not? Or 6 men to the same woman?
        Back to the question of the 6-year old. I think everyone (in our western society, at least) would agree that the 6 year old isn’t mentally capable of making that choice. What about a 12 year-old? A 14-year old? A 16 year old? Some 14 year-olds are much more mature, both physically and mentally, than some 20 year-olds. The age of consent differs from country to country. Every legal system draws the line somewhere. But maybe the State SHOULDN’T be the one to decide. I don’t know. If we say it is not the business of the State, or of Society, to interfere in personal relationships – except maybe in the extreme case of the 6 year-old girl and the 50 year-old man – then how can one justify the prohibition of polygamy/polyandry/incest?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s