If you're interested...
to the Government Administration Committee
on the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill 2012
Dear Committee members,
1. This personal submission is from Jordan Carter, 34 year old Canadian-born New Zealander living in Wellington.
2. I wish to appear before the Committee in support of this submission, if time can be found for this to be done. My contact details are provided separately.
3. I support the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, and I recommend the Bill be referred back to the House with the Committee’s support for its speedy passage.
4. In the law, marriage is a component of the civil rights of New Zealanders. It, along with some issues related to the care of children, represents the only clear discrimination remaining in New Zealand law against people who are not heterosexual.
5. Civil marriage is an issue of rights, and of the law. While a wide range of religious traditions have an interest in various forms of marriage, their responsibilities are to their faith. Parliament’s responsibility is to uphold the rights of New Zealanders. Accordingly, religious arguments should not sway this Committee on this matter.
6. There is no legitimate argument to deny equal access to civil marriage to same-sex couples, just as there would be no legitimate argument to prohibit marriages between people of different ethnic groups, or between different-sex couples who are infertile.
7. All such arguments belong to past eras. None should guide New Zealand’s policy in 2012 and beyond.
8. The fight against homophobia, of which this legislation forms part, is the same as the fight against racism and sexism. In our country in this decade, all forms of bigotry should be met with the same response: a celebration of diversity, and a principled commitment to equality for all.
9. Civil unions are separate but not-quite-equal. They are an honourable institution but they are not the same as marriage equality. Only access to the same institution accords the same recognition, the same honour and the same respect to all.
10. By endorsing this legislation, Parliament will send a signal to everyone, but particularly to (and about) all of us who are not heterosexual: that our lives, our loves, our hopes and dreams are of the same character and legitimacy as those of all other New Zealanders.
11. That is a message worth sending. Please support this Bill, and send it.
12. I broadly support the submissions by New Zealand Rainbow Labour and by the Campaign for Marriage Equality.
13. The Bill achieves its objective by ensuring that marriage is made equal. I do not have any amendments to suggest.
14. I note comments by some members of the public that there is uncertainty as to whether this amendment would oblige members of some religious organisations to perform marriages to which they may be opposed.
15. It seems unlikely to me that this is the case, as outlined in great depth in other more lawyerly submissions.
16. I would not strongly object if the Committee chose to recommend inclusion of language that clarified this matter beyond doubt, but think that the matter is clear without such clarification.
17. Parliament should take this opportunity to send a message that all New Zealanders are equal. It should support this Bill.
18. I recommend the Committee commend this Bill to the House.