Monday, November 29, 2004

the political expediency bill

The select committee report on the Civil Union Bill is online now, and not surprisingly, the committee is mainly in favour of the bill. The rest wanted a national referendum to establish a public mandate. And if United Future MP's get into action like they are doing with the Prostitution Act, it may well happen, but I suspect most of them won't be around after the next election.

Just five National MP's support the bill, including leader Don Brash, and one of these MP's was on the select committee. Nearly half the select committee members were liberal Labour MP's. So why, if NZ First is the third largest party in Parliament, does that party get just one MP on a select committee, if it is so proportional?

The report says the purpose of the bill is to establish civil unions for different and same sex couples. Noted that "different" comes before "same sex" - as if same sex couples are an add-on. The truth is that the purpose of the bill is to establish civil unions for same sex couples and different sex couples are also included as to not include them would breach our human rights legislation. And that is the only reason. The only reason that it is not a gay marriage bill is that it is not politically expedient to legislate for gay marriage.

The report also discusses de facto couples and married couples - but talks about "good defacto parents" and "bad married parents", as if to highlight why we need civil unions. The Government thinks there's too many bad married parents, but a lot of good de facto parents who need legal and social recognition - but they are not seeking this legislation.

It's predominately gay couples who don’t have kids who are seeking this legislation. The next biggest group is gay people who do have kids followed by gay people who don't have partners. The next biggest group who seek this legislation are Labour MP's. If you are not supportive of the bill and you are a Labour MP, you should question why you are a Labour MP, and expect to get lots of emails this week.

All the research quoted by the report supported same sex relationships, even though more research to the contrary was presented to the select committee. So not only did nearly half the views of the select committee members get ignored, so did the majority of the submissions, most of which did not even get read.

Murray Smith, of United Future, is predicting that gay activists will test the legislation within a few months. He predicts that there will be a complaint lodged with the Human Rights Commission leading to a declaration that a provision to switch heterosexual civil unions to marriage and back is inconsistent with the right to freedom from discrimination, as gay couples can't switch.

The Crown Law Office has said that will not happen, as the discrimination is no worse than gay couples not being allowed to marry. In other words, the Marriage Act has more weight than a Civil Union Act and all discrimination is justifiable in terms of section 5 of the Bill of Rights. However, if Murray Smith is correct, we'll have gay marriage through the back door immediately.

Some people are saying the bill is contributing to "A HIV + Human Rights Culture", after David Benson-Pope's positive human rights culture comments. That’s a bit unfair.

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