I do not support the so-called Marriage Equality Bill

Ethics Political Philosophy Politics Social Issues

This probably won’t shock any of my readers, but I do not support Louisa Wall’s proposed amendment to the Marriage Act.

The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill recently passed its second reading in Parliament, and our ever-eager-to-say-they-made-a-difference politicians will almost certainly vote it into law this year. The new legislation would see the definition of marriage used by the Marriage Act 1955 expanded to include unions of two people of the same sex. Existing prohibitions would remain in place (e.g. close relatives still will not be able to marry), and the definition of marriage will not be broadened to include unions of more than two people.

I do not believe that Parliament actually cares what most people want (nor should they always do so). I think that even before the routine of hearing public submissions began, it was a foregone conclusion for those Members of Parliament who supported the Bill that they would continue to support it, and that they were not genuinely open to hearing people explain why they do not support the change. A recent poll (16 March 2013) at one of New Zealand’s most widely read blogs, Whale Oil (where the blogger-in-chief Cameron Slater vocally supports the change), showed 63% opposition to the Bill, surprising if only because of the context in which such opinion prevails. Perhaps more “respectably,” Curia market research in February 2013 found in its “moral issues” poll that fewer than half of respondents (47%) supported the law change, and a similar number (43%) maintained that the Civil Unions  Act (virtually a clone of the Marriage Act, but including same-sex unions) is already adequate for same-sex couples. So while, again, I am not a populist who thinks that the government should always do whatever the people want, it’s also not clear that this change is “the will of the people,” and when politicians and lobbyists for the change insist that it has overwhelming support, they are either not telling the truth or they are being selective in which polls they listen to.

In point of fact, the Select Committee hearing public submissions knowingly prevented many opponents of the Bill from making their oral submission at all. Whether this was done so that they could then claim that fewer people gave oral submissions against the Bill, thus skewing perception of the support for the Bill, or they simply were not interested in hearing what opponents had to say because their decision was already made, is not clear – although I suspect that a mixture of both explanations is correct.

But enough about the political wrangling. Here is why I do not support the change, and also what disappoints me about the state of the debate. I’ll start with some broader comments about marriage and sexuality and then I’ll zero in on the Marriage Act and the debate around its proposed amendments.

Marriage and sexuality

As I hope is true of all sincere people, my values and beliefs about life, reality and everything inform the way that I evaluate any law, policy or opinion. I wouldn’t be a very honest person if I held to a range of beliefs that committed me to rejecting a policy but I pretended to agree with it because I felt that the culture expected it of me. My beliefs about what constitutes marriage are no different. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Sexuality is part of the way that we were created to express love and to promote procreation. Like all other human functions, it can go wrong through no deliberate actions on the part of the person who has the dysfunction. Our auditory, visual, olfactory, nervous, hormonal and mental systems and functions can go wrong. We know this. Since our sexuality is a human function too it should not be difficult to see that it could go wrong as well.

Of course, if there’s no such thing as “proper” function, if we just happen to be here, we happen to have the bits and pieces that we have, there’s nothing that those bits and pieces are really for in any objectively true sense and there’s certainly no reason or purpose to our existence, then this may not sound right to you.  

If you think that we are just whatever we find ourselves to be and it’s not possible for us to be dysfunctional because there’s no way that we were meant to be and certainly nothing that we are here for other than what we decide, then I’m wrong and our sexuality can’t go wrong.

If you think that we are just whatever we find ourselves to be and it’s not possible for us to be dysfunctional because there’s no way that we were meant to be and certainly nothing that we are here for other than what we decide, then I’m wrong and our sexuality can’t go wrong. This is why it has been interesting to see the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, currently in its fifth edition) changing its tune about homosexuality. It was once regarded as a mental dysfunction, but it no longer is. Over the course of this change, nothing changed about the nature of homosexuality, nor did any particularly interesting new facts about it came to light. What changed was the attitude people took to homosexuality, which shows us the difficulty of coming up with judgements about objective function and dysfunction when those judgements are not grounded in anything objective, but instead in our evaluative stance about whether we find it oppressive or not to accept people as normal. But obviously I don’t think I’m wrong, I do think that there are facts of the matter about what counts as function and what counts as dysfunction.

If I’m right then God created everything that exists, and at the very least, he has intentions about the way in which human beings live. It’s proper (by which I mean something like “in accordance with correct function as intended by our maker”) for men and women to come together in marriage, which includes sexual union. Existing in the world are all sorts of dysfunctions too. There are mental conditions under which people hear voices that are not there. Some people have a strong disposition to addictive and also harmful behaviours. Some people are disposed to hold strange (but actually benign) beliefs. Some people are born with missing limbs. Still others find themselves sexually attracted to members of their own sex. Some people find themselves sexually attracted to people who differ radically from themselves in age (namely, children). All of these are dysfunctions because they depart from what our brains, limbs, nervous systems and sexual capacities exist for.

If I’m right, it’s also the case that God commands certain kinds of behaviour and condemns others, part based on his intentions for the way that we live and also based in part on the fact that God wants what is really good for all of us. It is these commands, in my view, that constitute our moral obligations. I say this to highlight the fact that the above considerations about proper function do not, in themselves, make any kind of sexual behaviour morally prohibited, they merely provide an account of what I mean and don’t mean when I say that some behaviour is “natural” and some is not.

If I’m right, another fact is that we should love and accept all of these people, however they find themselves in life in terms of their physiology, mental capacity or sexuality.

If I’m right, another fact is that we should love and accept all of these people, however they find themselves in life in terms of their physiology, mental capacity or sexuality. This is something that many of us do not do well, including some who share my religious beliefs (Christianity). I don’t think it’s true at all that, as many people insinuate, Christians are worse at treating people who are different from themselves. But we can certainly improve. But if I’m right, we do not love people by lying to them. We don’t help blind people by telling them that actually blindness is perfectly functional after all. Instead, we help them to live a life that is as normal as possible in spite of their blindness. The same goes for people in all of the situations I described above. We do not love people who are attracted to people of the same sex by telling them that this is healthy or normal – even if it’s “normal” for them in the sense that it is all they have ever known.

The central issue: What is marriage?

But I hear you say, “That’s religious! Why should anyone live according to your religion?” A tempting reply is to ask why anyone should conform to anyone’s beliefs at all, including the acceptance of your understanding of the public institution of marriage, but I digress. Sort of. Because when we get to the issue of marriage, yes I have religious reasons for thinking that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. But you, I daresay, have no good reasons (or at least, no reasons that I find convincing) for thinking that marriage can be the union of two men or two women, and there are good reasons that people should accept (whether they consider themselves religious or not) for thinking that there is a real difference between same-sex and opposite-sex unions that warrants different treatment of them.

In addition to my beliefs about what is and isn’t natural or functional, about God and how morality is grounded, and how we should love and accept people who are different from us (whether they are more or less functional), I also think that the Judeo-Christian understanding of marriage (which is, of course, much older than Judaism or Christianity and is shared by many, many people and cultures outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition) should continue to be retained in law as the correct one. The union of a man and a woman is the basis of a family for it alone is the union that produces children. No other union fulfils this function in society (or even outside of society). Robert George and others, dubbing this the “conjugal” view of marriage, sum their view up like so:

Marriage is the union of a man and a woman who make a permanent and exclusive commitment to each other of the type that is naturally (inherently) fulfilled by bearing and rearing children together. The spouses seal (consummate) and renew their union by conjugal acts—acts that constitute the behavioral part of the process of reproduction, thus uniting them as a reproductive unit. Marriage is valuable in itself, but its inherent orientation to the bearing and rearing of children contributes to its distinctive structure, including norms of monogamy and fidelity. This link to the welfare of children also helps explain why marriage is important to the common good and why the state should recognize and regulate it.1

I agree with this assessment. I am on record as saying that rather than seeing same-sex marriage created by the government, I could live with the government not being involved in marriage at all, and leaving the institution within the private sphere altogether. However, that was a “second best” option, staring in the face of the inevitability of the government getting marriage so wrong (as it is about to). Marriage offers public good and the state does well to recognise, promote and regulate it – provided it does this to marriage, and not to this other type of union that I do not consider to be marriage at all.

What Louisa Wall’s Bill proposes to do is to abandon the conjugal concept of marriage in New Zealand law and replace it with what George calls the “revisionist” view, described like so:

Marriage is the union of two people (whether of the same sex or of opposite sexes) who commit to romantically loving and caring for each other and to sharing the burdens and benefits of domestic life. It is essentially a union of hearts and minds, enhanced by whatever forms of sexual intimacy both partners find agreeable. The state should recognize and regulate marriage because it has an interest in stable romantic partnerships and in the concrete needs of spouses and any children they may choose to rear.2

Of course, if the state ought to recognise all unions of people who love each other (or just people who want to be together, since the state obviously can’t tell whether or not they really love each other), then it is hard to see why any constraints at all should exist on marriage among competent adults, and why unions of more than two people should not be treated as marriage. If they love each other and can have children (which may mean they need to adopt children in order to have them), then it is surely an imposition of your own mores onto them to tell them that they cannot marry. Why strip them of their rights? More on rights in a moment. It is true that some people make the claim that the Judeo Christian take on marriage employs a double standard, since there are all sorts of unions in the Bible that are recognised as perfectly legitimate marriage. The short reply is that this claim is just not true, as I have explained before, so the quip about double standards can simply be ignored. The other answer is that we were trying to leave religious reasons out of it for now, remember? (Of course, a further response is that even if the Judeo Christian outlook was employing a double standard, so what? That hardly makes this reason for thinking that a marriage is the union of a man and a woman wrong, does it?)

The production of children is a significant, non-arbitrary distinction between the union of a man and a woman and unions of other kinds. Even among proponents of same-sex marriage this recognition occasionally rears its head, namely when those proponents claim that in order to have the same rights as a married couple, they must have the right to a child via adoption. If marriage was simply the union of people in love then in most scenarios the question of having children would never arise (I say “most” because there are cases where a person decides that they are gay after already having children). After all, what is there about the union of a man and a man that suggests that children should be involved? A corporation cannot adopt children, neither can a collective, a church or a club. Only on the supposition that marriage has some natural connection with child rearing does it even make sense to suppose that if a couple is married then they should be able to adopt.

What’s more, those who defend this conception of marriage are immune from the politically driven cheap shot of being compared to racists who do not think that people of different races should marry (a position called anti-miscegenation). Those who prohibit mixed race marriage recognise that what they are supporting is a prohibition on something that is theoretically possible. A black man and a white woman could in theory marry, in this view, but they should be banned from doing so because race mixing is wrong. In other words, people are actually being refused permission to marry. But those who support the conjugal view of marriage are doing no such thing, if their view of marriage is correct. Rather than saying that two people should be disallowed from marrying, they are saying that what two people of the same sex want, whatever it may be, is not marriage at all. George and fellow authors also respond to the charge that appealing to the fact that men and women produce children together somehow excludes infertile couples from marriage, and curious readers are encouraged to read the article (which is excellent).

This is not a matter of discrimination

“But to only have heterosexual marriage discriminates against homosexuals because of their sexual orientation!” This is the standard line used against those like me who do not think that Marriage should be redefined. We are painted as thinking that discrimination is good and that we should deny people human rights based on their sexual orientation. Those who use this sort of rhetorical ploy reveal that they do not understand what the issue is really about. These accusations, far from being accurate, conceal the real issue, namely the nature of marriage. But are the accusations even true? Does the conjugal view of marriage promote discrimination and the suppression of human rights? Not at all.

In a trivial sense the Marriage Act 1955 discriminates, but only because it says that marriage is something and not something else. Even those who support the proposed amendment support discrimination, since the proposed amendment does not remove the prohibition on certain types of union (e.g. marrying a close relative), and neither do they wish to make marriage broad enough to include unions of more than two people, which is also discrimination. The Act does not overtly define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. When the Act was written nobody would have doubted that this is what was meant, because this was the understood definition of marriage (and, I maintain, the correct one).

But in any sense relevant for human rights, no, the Marriage Act in its current form does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of sexual orientation (or race, religion, political affiliation etc). Sections 17 and 18 of the Act place restrictions on the ability to marry for people under the age of 16 (who may not marry) and for minors (people under the age of 18, who require the consent of a guardian, or the Family Court as per Section 19). These restrictions exist because of the diminished capacity for consent that exists in younger people and to prevent the exploitation of children. No person, however, is prohibited from entering marriage on the grounds of their sexual orientation. Given the definition of marriage that the Act presupposed, however, few if any homosexual people would actually want to enter marriage, since marriage is the union of a man and a woman – and people who are attracted to members of their own sex are not likely to wish to enter such a union.

This is not a matter of human rights

The report of the Select Committee that heard public submissions on the proposed amendments, unfortunately, shows that even they have not grappled with the nature of human rights in general:

We acknowledge that whether or not the ability to marry constitutes a human right has been a topic of much debate. Proponents of the bill have expressed the view that the right to marry freely is a human right, which is currently denied to same-sex couples and transgender people. Opponents of the bill argue marriage is not a human right.

The majority of [the Select Committee] consider that marriage is a human right, and that it is unacceptable for the state to deny this right to same-sex couples. Others of us believe that marriage is not a right, and should continue to be the sole domain of heterosexual couples.

The “ability to marry,” if it is a right at all (I make no comment on that here), would be a human right, that is, the right of individual human beings. And as explained under the previous heading, this right (or at any rate, this ability, even if the right to marry isn’t a right) is not denied to anyone on the grounds of sexual orientation. But if the ability to marry is a right and human rights are not necessarily individual rights, but instead can be had by groups of human beings, then we would have to say: “Marriage is a human right, and it is unacceptable for the state to deny this right to polyamorous groups of three or more adults.” That we do not (in New Zealand at least) say this suggests that in fact we do think of human rights as individual rights, and (in my view) correctly so.

If we are talking about the rights of individual human beings to marry somebody else, then heterosexuals and homosexuals currently have identical rights in law. I do not have the right to marry someone of the same-sex and neither does a homosexual man. A homosexual man has the right to marry a woman, as do I. Here many people are reaching for the rhetorically powerful language of taking away other people’s human rights, which is satisfying at the level of public argument where the aim is to cast one’s opponents as opposing human rights. However, as the title of the Bill reminds us, the point of the change is not to change which rights individual people have, but rather to change the definition of marriage itself. Currently men and women have the same rights with respect to marriage. If the Bill becomes law, men and women will continue to have the same rights. What will have changed is the nature of the legal relationship that they are entering.

It is not as though we currently have an agreed concept of marriage, with a spat going on about who can enter it and who can’t. What is going on is a more fundamental disagreement about what marriage is.

It is not as though we currently have an agreed concept of marriage, with a spat going on about who can enter it and who can’t. What is going on is a more fundamental disagreement about what marriage is.

As long as the proponents of this Bill – Unfortunately including most of those in Parliament who are making the decisions about whether the law will change (a fact that depresses me) – continue to argue about whose rights are being suppressed rather than what should and should not constitute a marriage, they are diverting from the central issue and simply engaging in rhetorical grandstanding that generates heat without light.

Will this “affect YOUR marriage”?

Sometimes when discussing the issue of same sex marriage, proponents of the change will quickly change the subject from what counts and doesn’t count as marriage and start talking about your motives or something similar. The line of comment goes something like: “But this change won’t have any impact on YOUR marriage, so why do you care?” I’ll set aside the rather depressing impression this gives, namely that politically vocal people assume that everyone is motivated by nothing but self-interest. Unless something directly impacts you, you couldn’t possibly have a principled opinion for or against a given policy. To put it gently, I hope that people are able to be a bit deeper and more principled than this.

But on to more important responses to this comment: Firstly, it misunderstands democracy. Even if I thought that this law change had no effect on my marriage, and even if I was not married at all, to say that I am uninvolved in such a law change is to either overlook or to reject the notion of democratic representation. In the liberal democracy the people are not governed by outsiders or by dictators, but instead by representatives. Laws that are passed in a parliamentary democracy like ours are not expressions of the will of politicians, but rather they are passed on behalf of citizens. Assuming that civic involvement is a virtue at all and that we should care what our representatives do, it seems fairly obvious to me that if they are promoting a concept of marriage that I think is fundamentally mistaken and which would result in official public endorsement of this conception of marriage, it is merely a case of rhetorical bullying to suggest that I should keep my nose out of it.

Secondly, this retort fails to understand the nature of the change being made. The claim that “this won’t affect your marriage” reminds me of a related comment. A friend, on seeing that there is a website called “Protect Marriage,” which promotes the conjugal understanding of marriage, remarked, “protect marriage from WHAT?” Here too the assumption was that this change won’t do anything to marriage (or to my marriage, or the marriages of other people). Of course there is a trivial sense in which that is true: Nobody is going to come into my home and force me and my wife to live differently. But if that’s what people mean when they say that this change wouldn’t affect my marriage, they are wasting time with pointless observations. Nobody ever claimed that this would happen.

But something will happen. I would be happy enough for there to be no Marriage Act, and for marriage to be a private affair. But it isn’t. In addition to having my relationship with my wife, we also have a particular type of legal union. Ours is a legal marriage by virtue of the Marriage Act. To change this Act would be to change the nature of the legal institution that we have, and which any legally married couple has. I’m fond of (good) analogies, so here are two, one historical and one fictional: Operation Bernhard was a secret plan devised by the Nazis during World War II to destabilise the British economy by flooding the country with counterfeit currency. How would this destabilise the economy? Simple: If you increase the number of pounds in the economy, you devalue them all – something that nations who solve problems by printing money should take note of! Similarly, if you change the definition of marriage so that it includes more types of union, you reduce the uniqueness of all marriages. A second (fictional) analogy makes this clearer by taking things to the extreme: Suppose the law was changed so that everyone who lived on the same street was automatically considered to be a married group, so that everyone (or at least everyone who lived on a street with more than one occupant) was married. Would that affect marriage from the perspective of a person who was married prior to the change? Quite clearly so. When everybody is married, everybody may as well not be married. Whereas prior to the change my (legal) marriage meant something, it now means much less. My relationship with my wife would still be as wonderful as ever – we would still, in a true sense, be married according to a conjugal understanding of marriage. But the law would now regard my marriage in such a way that the legal recognition meant very little. This would only be so in the above fictional scenario because the definition of marriage is now looser (by which I mean broader), hence reducing the uniqueness of marriage as recognised in law.

Remember, this is not a disagreement where we have a shared understanding of marriage but a disagreement only about who should and should not be allowed into marriage. If that were the disagreement, then it is true that allowing same-sex couples to marry would not affect my marriage or anyone else’s. The concept of marriage wouldn’t have changed, it’s just that there would be more people enjoying it. Instead, as explained earlier, this is a situation where there are two different conceptions of marriage on the table. Currently New Zealand operates under one concept of marriage, and the current version of the Marriage Act applies to everyone who is married. If the proposed amendments pass, then New Zealand will be operating with a different conception of marriage, and the amended version of the Marriage Act will, again, apply to everyone who is married in future.

If you say that a change to the Marriage Act has nothing to say about opposite-sex couples who get married, then you are simply mistaken. You’ve got the facts wrong. These changes would not change the status of people who are homosexuals. These changes are to change marriage into something else – something that some homosexuals want instead of what it is now. The marriage of everyone is being changed so that marriage becomes a desirable thing to people who don’t currently want it.

Shallowness

Now for a few comments about how the debate in New Zealand (and it seems to me, around the world wherever similar changes are afoot) is being carried out. In a word, badly. The proposed changes are being discussed in a manner that betrays an appalling intellectual vacuum on hot-button issues – the type of shallowness that is the bane of the reputation of political discourse between politicians in general.

Things have reached a point where a sincere proponent of the proposed changes can say to me “I have not seen any good arguments for not including same-sex couples in the definition of marriage” without having actually read a single serious article or book proposing that marriage should be construed as exclusively including opposite-sex couples. Just reflecting on how one happens to feel about the change – as well as engaging in banter on social media websites or surveying people as to what they think – now counts, so it would seem, as seriously considering the other side of an issue.

Just reflecting on how one happens to feel about the change – as well as engaging in banter on social media websites or surveying people as to what they think – now counts, so it would seem, as seriously considering the other side of an issue.

Another way in which shallowness (and perhaps dishonesty) is a troubling feature of the promotion of Ms Wall’s Bill is the distortion of what the Bill is actually about. The title of the Bill gets it right – it isn’t about which people are allowed to get married. It is about the “definition of marriage.” Stated differently: The status quo in law is that we recognise marriage as being a relationship between a man and a woman. Any man and any woman – regardless of their sexual orientation (although there are other restrictions on who may marry, e.g. age). And yet in the current version of the Bill there is a commentary from the Select Committee that we’ve already seen, as follows:

We acknowledge that whether or not the ability to marry constitutes a human right has been a topic of much debate. Proponents of the bill have expressed the view that the right to marry freely is a human right, which is currently denied to same-sex couples and transgender people. Opponents of the bill argue marriage is not a human right.

The majority of us consider that marriage is a human right, and that it is unacceptable for the state to deny this right to same-sex couples.

On the one hand the commentary is talking about human rights, and in the next breath it is talking about the rights of couples – representing at the very least a confusion about the nature of human rights. It is literally senseless to talk about denying human rights to a couple – any more than we can talk about denying human rights to a fishing club or refusing to allow a couple to have a middle name. Couples have neither human rights nor middle names, as such things attach to people, not couples. In the middle of this is the obvious falsehood that marriage is denied to transgender people (nothing in the Act prohibits them being married). This is no more than a collection of civilised sounding nonsense dressed up as serious commentary on a potential law change.

This kind of rhetorical mess and confusion was on full display during the Parliamentary debate prior to the second reading of the Bill, where members were standing up to declare that they had spoken to homosexuals and “realised” that each one is a son, daughter, sister, brother etc. In the first place I can only wonder what they thought they were before, and in the second place, how is such emotive tosh even remotely relevant? The debate was loaded with rhetoric about this or that being “against my human rights and all that,” without so much as a glint of evidence that this was a house of Representatives interested in any serious thinking about either human rights or marriage. Regrettably, much of what passes for debate among the general populace is little better: Facebook links to stories about same sex couples along with sound bites like “Come on, equal rights, people!” Or people who simply sit back, not expending any time or effort at all to look at what reasons people give for their respective positions, announcing “I’ve never seen a good argument for their position.” In all honesty it’s alarming that politicians in such a state, in a nation in such a state, are making any changes to any laws at all!

Dishonesty

Lastly, as is often said: “Truth is the first casualty of war.” This debate is no different, and what seems to matter is that people can persuade or move with their claims, and not that they can convey truth with them. On the 10th of March on TVNZ’s Q and A show, Louisa Wall dismissed suggestions that children are better off with a mother and a father. She claimed that “the latest research from the UK, from the University of Cambridge, said that that’s not right, that the most important thing is for children to be brought up in loving families, and it’s about how they function. It’s got nothing to do with the gender of the parents.” Representing the other side of the issue, Colin Craig said that that this claim is at odds with research completed in Sydney last year. Louisa’s response was to say “Well, this is the evidence out of the University of Cambridge that came out two days ago.” Her research was the latest and the best, so it trumps other research.

It’s a type of comment you may have heard from time to time: That the latest and best research shows that whether or not children have a mother and a father has no real bearing on their well-being and so having two fathers or two mothers (for example) is as good. But even if this is what we should desire to be the case, the claim about latest and best research is just untrue. If I phoned up a few conservative friends and then posted their comments here at my blog, calling it “the latest research,” you’d laugh at me – as you should. To refer to something as the latest research coming out of a prestigious university is clearly going to bring connotations of peer reviewed academic research. Louisa Wall knows this.

So, what is this latest research from the University of Cambridge? Well actually it’s not peer reviewed research at all, which immediately undermines the initial impression that Wall’s comments gave. The research was published by the Centre for Family Research, a non-profit group that engages in, among other things, advocacy for same-sex marriage. What’s more, the research looks at 130 families. This does not compare well to the much larger Regnerus study, which was widely decried by combox critics because of its unpopular findings (unpopular among those who might support Ms Wall’s Bill, anyway), but which received a much more respectful hearing among its scholarly dissenters. What’s more, the children involved in this British research were all between the ages of 4 and 8, and was limited to comparisons with adoptive opposite-sex couples. So in terms of peer-review, size and scope, the study is clearly of lesser value than the Regnerus study, and perhaps than the Sydney-based research that Colin Craig refers to (which I have not read, and which is about the stability and well-being of families more generally, and not specifically on the differences between same-sex parent homes and opposite-sex couple homes), and yet Louisa Wall bandied around the words “latest research” as though she had information that trumped all this. She does not, and nothing has changed. Of course, even if she was right and the latest peer reviewed research did show that there is no important difference in the lives of children raised by a same-sex couple from those raised by a mother and father, this would not at all serve as a reason to change the definition of marriage. All it would do is suggest that there are unions other than marriage where children can be raised without ill effect. But this is not the current state of the research at any rate.

So that is one way in which honesty has become a casualty – innuendo about the current state of the research that does not reflect reality. Another is the way in which serious concerns about the proposed legislative amendments are being “shushed” as having no substance when there is actually very good reason to think that the concerns are well grounded and serious. In particular, there is a serious concern over the way that the proposed amendments will impact the right to religious freedom.

The current version of Section 29 of the marriage Act states: “A marriage licence shall authorize but not oblige any marriage celebrant to solemnize the marriage to which it relates.” In an effort to clarify and reassure the public that no minister would be required to marry a couple of two men or two women when they do not regard such unions to be a marriage, the Select Committee, in 5A of its report, recommended amending Section 29 to read as follows:

Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), no celebrant who is a minister of religion recognised by a religious body enumerated in Schedule 1, and no celebrant who is a person nominated to solemnize marriages by an approved organisation, is obliged to solemnize a marriage if solemnizing that marriage would contravene the religious beliefs of the religious body or the religious beliefs or philosophical or humanitarian convictions of the approved organisation.

Schedule 1 lists the following bodies, who are permitted to exercise freedom of religion and not solemnise unions that they do not consider marriage:

Baptists
The Church of the Province of New Zealand, commonly called the Church of England
Congregational Independents
The Greek Orthodox Church
All Hebrew Congregations
The Lutheran Churches
The Methodist Church of New Zealand
The Presbyterian Church of New Zealand
The Roman Catholic Church
The Salvation Army

No mention of Grace Presbyterian Church of New Zealand? Any of the numerous Pentecostal Churches? Brethren churches? Church of the Nazarene? The Churches of Christ? ROCOR (The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia)? Seventh Day Adventists? Or what about religious people who are celebrants and not affiliated with a church at all? You get the point. But you’ve got to be a minister of one of these religions or else you’ve got to represent an “approved organisation,” and it must be the case that the organisation is opposed to same sex marriage on religious or conscientious grounds. Otherwise, sorry, you’ve got to do the deed.

In the aforementioned televised discussion with Colin Craig, Louisa Wall repeatedly claimed that by amending Section 29, all threat of censure or legal action against ministers or other religious people who refuse to marry same-sex couples was removed. See the transcript here. For suggesting that there was any legal threat against such people, Wall branded Colin “really disingenuous.” She was adamant: The amendment protected all such people. Yet it looks, on the face of it, as though there is an overt distinction between religious bodies recognised in the Act and other religious bodies, along with religious independent celebrants.

Several legal opinions have been offered to highlight this concern. One was mentioned in the New Zealand Herald:

Wellington barrister Graeme Edgeler said the bill would not force celebrants who were not linked to a religious organisation to carry out marriages.

But if an independent celebrant declined to marry a same-sex couple, the couple could then complain to the Human Rights Commission.

“It’s not about [celebrants] being forced, it’s about people getting in trouble afterwards if they didn’t,” he told APNZ.

“They’re not breaking any rule in the Marriage Act, but rules in other acts. The main one would be the Human Rights Act, which says you can’t discriminate on the basis on sexual orientation or gender.”

It’s important to stress that the discrimination complained of in such cases would not be on the basis of sexual orientation. Such marriages would not be refused because the individuals are gay. The refusal to marry would be because of the sex of the parties involved, or rather that the sex of the two parties is the same.

Auckland based Barrister Rachel Wong has raised similar concerns, highlighting – among other things – the way in which the Bill does not provide “safeguards for the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or the manifestation of religion and belief as affirmed by sections 13 and 15 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.”

Another Auckland barrister, Ian Bassett, has provided an in-depth legal opinion concurring with these concerns, stressing that any marriage celebrant who falls outside of the categories permitted by the proposed amendment (namely a minister of religion in one of the religious bodies named, or a celebrant nominated by an “approved organisation”) “will not be able to lawfully refuse (on grounds of religious belief or conscience) to marry a homosexual couple by reason of the sex of the couple.” And this will be the case, Bassett notes, “even though those independent celebrants may hold the very same religious convictions or hold the same views as a matter of conscience just as firmly as the celebrants who (as part of an established church listed in schedule 1 or are part of an approved organization) have the benefit and protection of the s5A conscientious exemption.” Although a Ministry of Justice Report (not a legal opinion) claimed that there’s a difference between independent celebrants and those affiliated with religious bodies and independents because the latter serve a public function not served by the former, Bassett notes that this is “contrary to law.”

11. Unfortunately the distinction drawn by the Ministry of Justice Report opinion is contrary to law, because section 11 of the Marriage Act 1955 (as quoted above herein) itself contemplates that the Registrar may lawfully appoint independent celebrants if it is in the interests of the public generally  or of a particular community (including on grounds of belief) that the person be a marriage celebrant.

12. The reasoning in the Ministry of Justice Report for excluding independent celebrants from the exemption is therefore legally flawed. The Select Committee Report has received and made recommendations based upon flawed legal advice. Furthermore the discriminatory nature of the recommendation of the Select Committee can be demonstrated aptly by the following questions.

13. Are the firmly held orthodox (Christian or otherwise) religious beliefs or consciences of independent celebrants who operate independently of an approved church or organization any less valid or deserving of protection, recognition and respect than the religious beliefs of celebrants who are part of an approved church or organization?

Are the rights of independent celebrants (Christian or otherwise) to manifest their religious beliefs (if they elect by performing religious rites in conjunction with the solemnisation of a marriage) any less valid or deserving of protection, recognition and respect than the religious beliefs (and rights to manifest those beliefs) of celebrants who are part of an approved church or organization?

14. In essence the Select Committee’s proposed s5A is unjustifiably discriminatory. If the Crown Law Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Select Committee are of the opinion that there should be a conscientious exemption on religious grounds for church approved celebrants (or celebrants who are nominated by an approved organisation), then the exemption should be available to all celebrants without discrimination on random grounds.

What is more, the human right to freedom of religion is, like all human rights, an individual right. The proposed amendment does nothing to address the human rights concern, for as Bassett points out (all emphasis original):

16. Furthermore the recommendation of the Select Committee is also unprincipled and wrong because the proposed s5A provides that the exemption only applies where the “celebrant who is a minister of religion recognised by a religious body … [or] … person nominated to solemnize marriages by an approved organisation, is obliged to solemnize a marriage if solemnizing that marriage would contravene the religious beliefs of the religious body or the religious beliefs or philosophical or humanitarian convictions of the approved organisation.” In other words it is not the beliefs of the celebrant that are protected (as required by ss13 and 15 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, but the exemption only operates if the solemnizing of the marriage would contravene the religious beliefs of the religious body … [or] … the approved organisation. That limitation is at odds with the thrust of ss13 and 15 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. Furthermore as stated by the European Court of Human Rights in Eweida and others v The United Kingdom Strasbourg 15 January 2013 at paragraph 81 :

“The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion denotes views that attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance. … Provided this is satisfied, the State’s duty of neutrality and impartiality is incompatible with any power on the State’s part to assess the legitimacy of religious beliefs or the ways in which those beliefs are expressed.”

17. The Select Committee’s requirement (expressed in the proposed s5A) that celebrants only receive the benefit of the exemption if their beliefs meet an external prescribed standard of belief (ie the beliefs of the religious body or approved organisation), is misguided. There will also be an associated practical problem if the approved religious body or organisation is split on the issue of same sex marriage or refuses to adopt an official position on the issue.

Similar concerns are raised by Otago University law professor Rex Adhar (http://www.pundit.co.nz/content/gay-marriage-and-preserving-religious-freedom-for-celebrants). And yet in spite of the legal facts as explained above, Louisa Wall and others persist in claiming that those who raise concerns over the implications of her amendment for religious freed are no more than “fearmongers.” This is not honest. It dismisses important concerns and stigmatises those who raise them, and it is certainly no way for a member of parliament to reply to those who raise concerns about a piece of legislation that she is trying to have passed.

The truth is that it would be very easy to ensure that such human rights concerns are addressed. Add an amendment that states quite plainly:

No celebrant is obliged to solemnize a marriage if solemnizing that marriage would contravene their religious beliefs or philosophical or humanitarian convictions.

The fact that Ms Walls publicly insists that the matter is already addressed and dismisses and labels those who see that it is not suggests that she knows full well the legal implications of her Bill and is happy with them. This appears to be one more link in the chain. When civil unions were proposed, people noted that they were essentially identical in legal terms to marriage. Proponents of that Bill at the time (also Labour Party MPS, for what it’s worth) assured people that if Civil Unions became a reality we shouldn’t worry about marriage. There would be no need to amend the Marriage Act because Civil Unions exist to serve that need. Now that Civil Unions have been with us for a few years, we are being told that we shouldn’t worry about the apparent legal implications of the change, nobody’s religious freedom is at risk. All along the trajectory has been fairly obvious, and these implications are part of it.

So there you have it. I do not support the proposed amendment to the Marriage Act and I take a dim view of virtually all of the rhetoric that is being used to promote it.

  • I think there are good reasons, both in terms of my own religious convictions and considerations that other people should accept, for maintaining that marriage should be limited to the union of a man and a woman.
  • Concerns about discrimination and human rights are in general factually mistaken. In the first place, the current version of the marriage Act applies to all individuals equally and does not exclude people from marriage on the grounds of sexual orientation. The real issue is that people of homosexual orientation do not want marriage, for marriage, according to the definition presupposed by the Act, is between people of opposite sexes.
  • Attempts to dismiss objections to the proposed amendment on the grounds that the change will not affect my marriage are misguided on several fronts. In the first place it supposes a very base description of how people engage the political process, motivated only by what is “in it for them.” Secondly it fundamentally misunderstands the concept of democratic representation, and thirdly it fails to note the way in which the change affects the type of union had by all those married under the amended Marriage Act. Again, this is not a genuine attempt to change the status of homosexual people. Instead it is the attempt to change marriage – something that homosexual people currently do not want – into something that they find desirable.
  • Much of the rhetoric that is used to push this amendment and to dismiss objections is either shallow or dishonest, and in some cases both. While emotive and provocative anecdotes and clichés are the order of the day, serious grappling with the issues of the nature of human rights and marriage itself is noteworthy by absence. The current state of human knowledge on related issues such as adoption and families is used as something of a wax nose, portrayed in just whatever way the proponent of the change wishes. When serious concerns are raised about actual human rights implications of the amendment, they are shooed away with derision even though there is clearly a case to answer.

Chances are I’ve missed a few things, but that should be enough to spell out the big things. Are our representatives interested in concerns like these? It would appear not. But for what it’s worth, they should be, and so should you.

Glenn Peoples

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  1. Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George and Ryan Anderson, “What is Marriage?” Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 34:1, 246. The article is available online at <http://www.harvard-jlpp.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/GeorgeFinal.pdf> []
  2. George et al, “What is marriage?” 246-247. []

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Martin March 24, 2013, 8:52 pm

    Oh, what’s that? More hate from the extreme Christian right? Yawn.

  • dave March 24, 2013, 9:15 pm

    The Select Committee hearing public submissions knowingly prevented many opponents of the Bill from making their oral submission at all. Whether this was done so that ..
    not just opponents, supporters too -perhaps done as similiar views were already canvassed at committee and they were addressing gay marriage, not the gay marriage legislation.
    If we are talking about the rights of individual human beings to marry somebody else,
    We aren’t. We`re talking about the rights of individual human beings to marry somebody they love and are in a relationship with.

  • Glenn March 24, 2013, 9:52 pm

    “We aren’t. We`re talking about the rights of individual human beings to marry somebody they love and are in a relationship with.”

    Yep, so their right to marry someone else. The stress was on the words “individual human beings” to be clear that we’re talking about individual rights – which is what human rights are. Your additions about a relationship and love are fine.

  • Alabaster March 24, 2013, 10:30 pm

    Martin,
    I would ask that you show a little more open-mindedness and willingness to engage the ideas of people who are different from you. Being dismissive of people who think differently than you makes you look like the stereotype (someone who is intolerant) you’re trying to criticize. Could you please engage Glenn and demonstrate why you believe religious beliefs are objectively less of a human right than the right to marry? Could you also explain why you believe marriage needs government approval at all? If issues at the heart of the matter is love, why does a couple in love need the sanctioning of the state for it to be real? Why does love even need the approval of some government bureaucrat? Again I’ll post a particular point Glenn made above, since I essentially agree with him on this:

    If I’m right, another fact is that we should love and accept all of these people, however they find themselves in life in terms of their physiology, mental capacity or sexuality.

    Dave,
    if we’re talking about an individuals right to marry someone they love, could you please give an account of why marriage should be limited to just pairs of humans, or why it should only be understood in terms of monogamy? Why do you believe the states should restrict prevent a man or women who loves two or more people passionately from marrying all of them at the same time? Why can’t a person be in multiple relationships concurrently, and be participating in multiple marriages? If a person loves someone enough, why should it matter if they’re already married? Why should marriage itself stand in the way of love, if the issue is ultimately about human beings being with other human beings they love in a state-sanction relationship?

  • Julie March 24, 2013, 10:42 pm

    Glennn just curious what your thoughts on same sex unions are? Do you have an article on it?

    On a separate note, I think quite frankly, when it comes to celebrants, no one should be obliged to marry any couple and should be free to reject them on any basis they want. There are plenty of celebrants out there – no one should ever be obliged to marry a couple whose marriage they think is detrimental to the couple, to others, or to society as a whole. Being a celebrant is a big deal – they’re helping two people take what should be one of the biggest committments of their life (perhaps the biggest after having children) – no one should be forced to involved in something like that they’re not comfortable with,

  • Calumn March 24, 2013, 11:15 pm

    “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

    Yep, sounds like this blog entry, Glenn. Prick.

  • Peter March 24, 2013, 11:20 pm

    Alabaster’s comments are spot on. Religious beliefs are objectively more of a human right than the right to marry. My religious doctrine demands all Christians to divorce so can all of you Christians please divorce so my religious right are not violated.

    And marriage does not need government approval. So let’s just give all the same tax benefits, adoption rights and next-to-kin rights. Marriage should not be a criteria for those.

    BTW marriage should not be limited to just pairs of humans. Jesus made it absolutely clear (Matthew 5:18) that Old Testament Laws (Laws of Moses) are not to be changed yet. And God does sanction polygamy in several places in the OT (for example in 2 Samuel 12:7-8). So I agree with Alabaster and Jesus that we should allow polygamy.

  • Glenn March 24, 2013, 11:23 pm

    “My religious doctrine demands all Christians to divorce so can all of you Christians please divorce so my religious right are not violated.”

    Peter, you’re talking about what your religious beliefs require *others* to do. That’s not exactly a case grounded in religious freedom.

    The concern raised here, by contrast, is about people being able to excercise their religious freedom so that they are not required to do something.

  • Richard March 25, 2013, 2:21 am

    Phew! And wow! That was an awesome post, Glenn. :-)

    My first preference is your “second best” option. The buggers are legal now, what more are they after? My second preference is NO to Wall’s bill, for all the reasons you’ve given. My third preference is YES to Wall’s bill, in the hope that “they” will shut up and go away! I’m sick of the whining and dishonesty this debate engenders. But … the buggers can marry now, what more are they after? Their very own taxpayer-funded Gay TV channel?!

  • Hammiesink March 25, 2013, 3:00 am

    My question is this: what if there turns out to be a natural function (a purpose) for homosexuality at the societal level? Homosexuality is prevalent in the animal world, and some have theorized that it must serve some kind of biological function otherwise it would have died out, and hence has some purpose and ought to be embraced. For example, one theory says that homosexuals do not have children and are thus free to help raise the children of their close relatives. Far from being proven, of course, but the point is that homosexuality may serve some non-obvious, but still imperative, biological function.

    If we discover that some day, then….OOPS! We should have encouraged homosexual behavior all this time! It isn’t an aberration at all, but plays a vital role in society.

  • Anna Wilde March 25, 2013, 4:36 am

    First: thanks for the tl;dr summary at the end.

    Next: It’s not just homosexuals who would like our marriage laws changed, it’s heterosexuals like myself and my friends also, so please watch your wording. Additionally, not all homosexuals want this change. Many feel very strongly that they feel no need to mimic straight relationships by getting married, though I believe some do feel quite frustrated by the legal and social discrimination that the face without a marriage certificate.

    Lastly: I hope that one day the irony in “It dismisses important concerns and stigmatises those who raise them..” will dawn on you.

  • Julie March 25, 2013, 4:46 am

    And in Hammiesink’s post is the danger of believing in garbage theories like evolution. The assumption that behaviour must have “evolved” for a reason.

  • Hayden March 25, 2013, 10:18 am

    Its always going to come down to ones fundamental belief regarding reality. The Christian believes all reality and truth is grounded in God and what He says, and therefore truth regarding matters such as marriage is objective in the sense that marriage is what God decrees. However those who do not believe in God means the defintion and purpose of marriage is relative and therfore marriage can be whatever they decide at the time.

  • Hugh March 25, 2013, 11:18 am

    Oh, what’s that? More hate from the extreme Christian right? Yawn.

    Finally, someone who’s talking some sense.

    Glenn, I’m with Martin on this one. I’m also sick of you fundamentalists and your whole reasoned discussion thing you have going on. Listening to and engaging with arguments is outdated; it’s far more useful to use smug sounding one-liners to convey points. After all, in today’s society we tend to uphold actual virtues like tolerance and equality, which means labelling a hate monger anyone who disagrees with me because everyone knows I’m correct.

  • Hugh March 25, 2013, 11:43 am

    Homosexuality is prevalent in the animal world, and some have theorized that it must serve some kind of biological function otherwise it would have died out, and hence has some purpose and ought to be embraced.

    Hey Hammiesink,

    This seems to suggest that whatever still happens in the animal world probably serves some biological function and therefore be embraced. Unfortunately when it comes to sexual behaviour, polygamy, rape, competitive infanticide and harassment to miscarriage still occur in the animal kingdom. This obviously doesn’t mean that homosexuality is on moral par with these – as some readers will jump to accuse me of saying – rather, it means that perhaps the existence of a behaviour in the animal kingdom isn’t a good standard to go by when it comes to which behaviours humans should embrace.

  • Hugh March 25, 2013, 12:03 pm

    Yep, sounds like this blog entry, Glenn. Prick.

    Agreed, we should ignore arguments and usename calling to demonstrate to them what belief in reason, tolerance and equality really looks like.

  • jeremy March 25, 2013, 2:02 pm

    Glenn you need to bring back the “like or agree” button. Hugh gets it exactly right, commom animal behaviour is probably not something most people want as social norms. Hugh you forgot to mention incest ( totally normal amongst mammals, humans are the exception if anything) and of course the whole alpha male thing, where one dominant male does virtually all the mating of his harem until deposed by a stronger male. Or how about bonobos, possibly our closet relatives, they indulge in endless genital contact as their primary means of social conflict resolution. Yep, lets look to the animals for normalising our behaviour, i’m at loss which to choose though, do i shoot the next man who looks at my wife and daughters or “play” with him?

  • AgeOfReasonXXI March 26, 2013, 1:10 am

    ” When everybody is married, everybody may as well not be married. Whereas prior to the change my (legal) marriage meant something, it now means much less.”

    This is about as silly and pathetic as saying that if everyone should own a car, it would make your owning a car “mean much less”. Do you have no sense of shame?

  • Oliver March 26, 2013, 3:02 am

    ‘This is about as silly and pathetic as saying that if everyone should own a car, it would make your owning a car “mean much less”. Do you have no sense of shame?’

    The seeming absurdity disappears when you understand Glenn’s point in terms of a legal attribution. A more charitable example, and one which relates to your own unfair analogy, would be having the status of being a legal driver. I earned my license according to certain requirements of the DVLA that confer on me the status of ‘legal driver’ – if everbody can get a license regardless of whether they meet the essential requirements (being able to drive, execute a reverse park etc) then surely the meaning of my license as a legal document that confers on me the exclusive status of being a legal driver has greatly diminished in meaning (given this fictitious, empty inclusivity).

    I think this warrants the claim that ‘…the law would now regard my marriage in such a way that the legal recognition meant very little. This would only be so in the above fictional scenario because the definition of marriage is now looser (by which I mean broader), hence reducing the uniqueness of marriage as recognised in law.’ In the same way, the law would regard my driving license in such a way that the legal recognition meant very little…the definition of being a legal driver is now looser…hence reducing the uniqueness of being a legal driver as recognised by the law. Indeed, not only would my driving license be evacuated of any meaning but so would any future licenses achieved by those able to carry out the essential requirements (read road signs, use indicators, execute 3. turns etc.) that would have previously conferred on the driver the legal status of being a driver. The legal recognition that the holder of such a license would be vacuous: to hold such a license would mean only that you could legally drive just because you held such a license! Of course this would be a ridiculous reason for being a legal driver in that, in itself, it say nothing of license holder’s ability to satisfy the essential requirements needed to be a legal driver as opposed to an illegal one.

  • Julie March 26, 2013, 3:13 am

    @Glenn… I know I’m not quite as contentious as some people who have replied, but my question yesterday was missed…. what is your opinion on civil unions? Do you have a previous article on it? I’m just curious.

  • Oliver March 26, 2013, 3:27 am

    ‘Of course this would be a ridiculous reason for being a legal driver in that, in itself, it say nothing of license holder’s ability to satisfy the essential requirements needed to be a legal driver as opposed to an illegal one.’

    Perhaps that last sentence could have been clearer. If being a ‘legal driver’ is to mean anything other than ‘being the possessor of a license’, it should at least include the idea that one is able to satisfy certain essential criteria that mean that one can drive. Whilst this might be an insufficient condition for a driving license (for example, you need to be able to pay for it) it is surely necessary if the document is to mean anything other than a vacuous, legislative absurdity. Without this inherent exclusivity in the legal status of being a ‘legal driver’, such an attribution would be a joke.

  • Glenn March 26, 2013, 7:07 pm

    Julie – no, I don’t have a blog article on civil unions. My take is that the Civil Union legislation was same sex marriage by another name.

  • Glenn March 26, 2013, 7:09 pm

    “This is about as silly and pathetic as saying that if everyone should own a car, it would make your owning a car “mean much less”. Do you have no sense of shame?”

    That’s not a particularly careful analysis, AOR. being married is a status. It’s not like owning an object. have you never heard the expression, “When everyone is special, nobody is?”

    I defended the claim you comment on with a couple of analogies. A quick laugh isn’t really a response. Well, it is a response of course, but not a very good one.

  • Peter March 26, 2013, 10:20 pm

    Thanks Glenn for clarifying that the religious freedom of Christians are not violated by *other* people marrying each other.

    It is sad that celebrants would have to follow the law of the land. They should not be forced to marry gays, inter-racial couples, white people, disabled or hipsters if they don’t want. And they should not be forced to pay taxes, have non-discriminatory hiring practices or forced to stop at traffic lights if that is against their religion.

    Richard, it is so bad now gay don’t shut up! Soon they might even demand the same privileges Christian organisations have like tax benefits and privilege to discriminate. Luckily Christians don’t whine… hmmm…Christians seem to complain a lot about gays but gays are ok with Christians.

    Julie’s comment is the best in this thread “…the danger of believing in garbage theories like evolution”. That has so much win.

    Hayden, I agree with you and Jesus that “marriage is objective in the sense that marriage is what God decrees”. God thinks polygamy (including marriages including two women) is ok. So let’s get that to be the social norm now.

  • Glenn March 26, 2013, 11:20 pm

    It is sad that celebrants would have to follow the law of the land. They should not be forced to marry gays, inter-racial couples, white people, disabled or hipsters if they don’t want. And they should not be forced to pay taxes, have non-discriminatory hiring practices or forced to stop at traffic lights if that is against their religion.

    Amusing (but a bit tired by now) rhetorical ploy of comparing same-sex marriage to interracial marriage. I covered this in the blog article, so you’d really have to do a bit more than just list them side by side and hope for the best.

    And you’re quite clearly missing the point, Peter (perhaps intentionally). The whole reason for asking for the amendment is so that Christians don’t find themselves at odds with the law.

    As for your two-second lesson on polygamy… yeah, I think I’ll be a bit sceptical of your claim to expertise. That’s what I’ll do. But if you have an intelligent contribution that seriously interacts with this blog article, it’s welcome.

  • jeremy March 26, 2013, 11:45 pm

    @Peter, being Christian is not one of the qualifications necessary to gain registration as a Charity, neither does being a Christian organisation confer status as a Charitable Trust.

    Lots of different people’s stories are recounted in the OT of the Bible. Telling their stories is not the same as endorsing their behaviour. Neither does recounting the customs of the time constitue endorsement. As best as i can tell, all the accounts of polygamy are also accounts of the trouble that it lead to. That is a warning, not God saying its ok.

  • Johan Viklund March 27, 2013, 12:12 am

    I’m a revisionist, but I would like to drop the “romantically loving” part of the revisionist definition above.

    As for marrige of more than 2 consenting adults, yes, why not?

    I think that this has to be raised by people actually living in such relationships. Until that is done I think the law should stand as it is. There is, after all, a value in being conservative in what we change (I think that the law should change after society changes, not before (in general)).

    But lets imagine that this happened.

    First we would need to investigate the consequences of such a change in the law, possible effects includes (feel free to list more):

    1. More group-relationships.
    2. Possibly more coercion into this type of relationships (for example: one man, many wives, we’ve all heard the stories).
    3. Persons in coerced multi-person relationships gets an improved situation.

    The first one I have no issues with. It’s probably true, the law has a normative effect after all.

    The second one is problematic. If the consequence of such a law is more abuse and oppression then it should not be made. I don’t think it’s at all clear that that is the effect it would have, so this will have to be investigated.

    The third one is also non-obvious, it could be, it could not be. The reason would be that these people would become more visible in our society. We would also get societal norms for this and that could potentially have an affect. As it stands now, these people live outside of society, moving them inwards could improve the situation. I’m not at all sure that this would happen, it’s an argument that is heard in many different situations but I’m not sure if it has any basis in reality. So I’m open to persuasion on this one.

    Maybe there are more arguments against recognizing polygamy in law, if so I’d like to hear them.

  • Julie March 27, 2013, 3:50 am

    Meh, if they’re going to have same sex ‘marriage’ why not have polygamy? The arguments for and against polygamy are exactly the same as same sex ‘marriage’.

    I can’t speak for NZ but here in Australia we have polygamy legally recognised in everything except name. Centrelink benefits, family law, inheritances, child custody …. all of it treats the “mistress” as being legally equal to the legally married wife – even if the poor wife is totally unaware the mistress even exists.

    Peter… as mentioned, not all charities are christian, nor are all christian organisations counted legally as “charities”. In fact, there are plenty of charities out there that are LGBT organisations.

    Glenn I used to feel the same as you about civil unions. But I changed my mind over the last few years when I came to the conclusion – homosexually inclined people will continue to form relationships, live together, have children. Legally recognised unions can help to encourage couples to stay together. Homosexually inclined people will have sex and relationships and children, so surely it is better to encourage them into a stable relationship rather than a promiscuous lifestyle? If gay sex is going to be legal, then I don’t see the problem with allowing civil unions for “marriage like” purposes except when it comes to children (adoption, custody, etc).

  • PQ March 27, 2013, 9:50 am

    In an environment of shallowness, dishonesty and open malice, there’s little point in discussing anything. Once the lying begins we may as well all resort to “I make the rules, because I said so.” Followed shortly afterwards by violence and dominating behaviour to match guidelines from above mentioned animal world.

    It’s likely this Bill will pass because NZders don’t want to think about issues in any real depth while there is still stuff to buy and dreams of ambition to dream. Thinking, planning, invites responsibility. People could be blamed for outcomes. Like animals we still believe Might Is Right and fear being labelled as outside the ideas of groupthink. Groupthink is safe. No one, individually, is responsible. I can’t condemn the stupidity. If we all thought hard about how society should be and tried to change it, cohesion would soon end as we slammed up against the limitations of logic and theory in the face of the dynamics of real life as it happens.

    Watching discussions of contentious topics like this dissolve into stupidities makes me realise that bigotry (an inability to entertain any idea other than your own) is a useful and efficient state. It’s clean, honest and gets to where all the hot air was going much faster. No one wants equality (a theoretically impossible position anyway), humans want power over others. The moral and rhetorical backflips people will do to evade the obvious is sad and amusing.

  • Peter March 27, 2013, 6:01 pm

    @jeremy
    I was not talking about Charities. Churches get tax-exemption that gay advocate organisations don’t get. Church doesn’t need to give anything to anybody to qualify for tax-exemption. So your point was misleading.

    I wasn’t talking about “stories … in the OT of the Bible”. I’m not sure if you have read the Bible so I referred above to the part of the Bible you can check yourself. It says “…This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says:… I gave … your master’s wives into your arms.” So clearly God was ok for David to marry multiple women. Surely He is not a relativist who changed His mind on that. It’s up to you if you believe God’s word.

    @Glenn
    Funny how conservative Christians used the Bible to try to stop interracial marriages and now you think it is “Amusing… rhetorical ploy of comparing same-sex marriage to interracial marriage”.

    I’m no polygamy or Bible expert. I just quoted what Jesus said in the Sermon of the Mount, and what God said 3000 years ago about marriage between one man and multiple women. It was Their words not mine. It’s up to you if you believe Jesus and God’s word.

    This is particularly strange idea of yours: “The whole reason for asking for the amendment is so that Christians don’t find themselves at odds with the law”. It is like racists asking to be exempt from the anti-racism law so they don’t find themselves at odds with the law. Come on Glenn give loving couples a chance, it will not hurt you a bit.

    @Julie
    Churches are not or don’t need to be charity organisations to get tax exemptions. They can even run multinational corporations and don’t pay company taxes. For example neither the Australia nor the New Zealand Sanitarium companies pay company tax on their profits. Gay advocate organisations don’t get those government benefits, so why shouldn’t they complain about it.

  • jeremy March 27, 2013, 7:54 pm

    Peter you dont know what you are talking about, churches have to gain registration with the NZ Charities Commission to qualify for the tax exemptions etc that you are talking about.
    Wrt to David getting Sauls wives, yes he did, women were pretty much property and at that time it was normal practise for a new king to gain all the possesions of a deposed/vanquished king. There is no biblical evidence that David ever married any of the wives he inherited from Saul. Thats not to say David didnt have multiple wives, he did, but nothing good came of it, only bad. Nowhere does God endorse polygamy. And on the subject of believing God’s word, i take notice most strongly of what God teaches in the stories of those who have indulged in polygamy, the results are pain heartache violence and murder. I will stay with Gods plan as recounted in Genesis 1&2, one man one women becoming one flesh.

  • Glenn March 27, 2013, 9:41 pm

    Peter, you simply aren’t thinking about this. First you just reply by insisting that we have Jesus’ words endorsing polygamy – although there are no such words to quote (unless I missed it). See, this is the “shallowness” aspect that I complained about. You appear to genuinely think that a one-liner thrown out there is enough to make a case for something. Sorry. Reality’s different.

    And as for your very strange new argument about interracial marriage, that appears to go like this:

    1. Some Christians used the Bible to forbid interracial marriages (even though they thought such marriages were possible)
    2. Therefore I should consider it acceptable for you to compare my view that marriage is the union of a man and a woman with the prohibition on interracial marriage.

    I confess, your logic is too marvelous for me. I fail to see how it works.

    And as for pastors breaking the law, you’re dodging a little. First your comment was that Christians seem to think that they shouldn’t have to follow the law. i corrected this by pointing out that this was false and actually the amendment is being asked for so that no celebrant is required to break the law in order to do what they think is right. But instead of admitting that actually your first comment was wrong, you’ve just jumped back tot he interracial issue, “It is like racists asking to be exempt from the anti-racism law so they don’t find themselves at odds with the law.”

    But of course, it’s only “like” that if the two are comparable, and for reasons that have been explained in this blog entry, they aren’t.

    So again, if you have something other than shallow rhetorical one-liners, feel free to discuss the issue. But what I’m seeing from you is exactly the cocky, ill-thought rhetorical parading that is wrong with New Zealand’s popular political discourse.

  • Peter March 27, 2013, 11:38 pm

    @jeremy
    According to NZ Charities Act 2005 section 5(1) to gain charity status you qualify with “advancement of … religion”. So any Church gets this automatically. New Zealand law does not oblige churches to spend their money on charitable deeds. So honestly why did you make that argument if you knew that religious organisations get charity status automatically? And why would you claim that I don’t know what you are talking about?

    In NZ churches do not pay rates, thus these services are covered by other people including gays. Churches pay no income tax and no capital gains tax (see Sanitarium case above). As a result, the taxpayers including gays of New Zealand are subsidising religious proselytization.

    Your answer re David’s wives is to typical apologetics. David already had many wives (2 Samuel 3) and the God said that He gave David more wives (2 Samuel 12:7-8). Yeah right… God is really against polygamy. No wonder hermeneutics has such a bad name.

    @Glenn
    In Matthew 5:18 Jesus stated that Law of Moses still applies “until heaven and earth disappear” and surely he agreed God’s actions at 2 Samuel where God gave David more wives on top of many existing wives. It’s up to you if you believe Jesus’ and God’s word.

    I did not make an argument that you should consider it acceptable for me to compare my view that marriage is the union of a man and a woman with the prohibition on interracial marriage. You just made this up and then claimed that my logic fails. Nice try. I just observed how Bible was used to interracial marriages just like it is used against gay marriages.

    I’m not sure what you think I’m dodging. Christians don’t want to follow the new proposed law and want a loop hole in it just for them. I don’t see barbers demanding the right not to provide services to gays or any other groups of people. Christians seem to want special right to discriminate and the state to endorse it. And yeah I did read the part of the article “being compared to racists” – what is “theoretically possible” and “…could in theory marry”. Same could be said about gays…

    I’m sure you lift the gay marriage discussion by calling other side using “shallow rhetorical one-liners… cocky, ill-thought…” Yep, it’s people like me that is wrong with New Zealand’s popular political discourse. Once people like me are silenced real political discourse can start. Let’s bring back the Law of Moses; the hammer of Leviticus 20:13.

    Come on Glenn give loving couples a chance. Spends some time with loving gay couples and get to know them. Once you get close to situations you might open your eyes. Read about the magic what happen to conservatives Rob Portman and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

  • Nathan March 28, 2013, 1:18 am

    “Come on Glenn give loving couples a chance.”

    With this kind of comment it’s obvious the point of the blog post is lost on you Peter. “Loving couples” (by which I presume you mean mutually consenting adults), no matter what their sexual orientation, already have a chance. Heterosexuals under the legal definition of marriage as it currently stands now, and homosexuals under the legal definition of ‘civil union’.

    The whole point is that marriage (as currently defined as between a man and a woman) isn’t something homosexual couples are after since their relationship isn’t between a man and a woman.

    Legal status is already gained, so what exactly are same sex couples after? A more romantic term to describe a civil union?

  • jeremy March 28, 2013, 2:34 am

    You are still wrong Peter, advancement of religion is indeed a qualification, but in itself does not gain automatic registration with the Charities commission. You seem to be applying the same level of shallow misunderstanding to the NZ Charities Act as you do to the Bible.
    Churches charitable status derives from the fact that historically they were the charities and even now they still do the bulk of the charitable work. A little thought and you would realise the govt would soon revoke charitable status if it didnt find a net benefit to the country.
    Yes it is up to us if we believe Jesus and Gods word. Its equally up to us as to whether or not we accept your out of context interpretation of what partial quotes mean let alone apply.
    I repeat, allowing something is not the same as endorsing it. The law of Moses allowed for divorce, Jesus was clear that this was a concession to human imperfection. Likewise with polygyny, not part of the original plan, allowed not endorsed, never recorded positively, invariably bad outcomes highlighted, Jesus reaffirms strongly the original plan one man one woman on flesh.

  • Glenn March 28, 2013, 7:39 am

    Peter: “New Zealand law does not oblige churches to spend their money on charitable deeds.”

    This begs the question against religion somewhat by assuming that it does nobody any good, which in turn assumes that it’s false. I wrote about this a while back: Are Churches Charities?

    As for the rest, again: As I explained last time, your initial claim that churches didn’t want to follow the law is false. We are talking about a version of the law that does not yet exist, which already has an amendment that means many celebrants are within the law in refusing certain types of marriage, and which people want a clearer amendment for. Spin away, but this is not about anyone asking for a “loophole,” so that the Act doesn’t apply to them.

    I again chuckle at your 2 second theology lesson. It doesn’t even warrant the effort of a lesson in reply. However Google and the library is your friend. Should you have any sincerity in wishing to understand the issue from a biblical/theological perspective there are some good resources available. Walter Kaiser’s Towards Old Testament Ethics is good, and at Google books you can have a look through chapter 12 on the subject. Let me know if it raises any serious questions and we can discuss those. But one-liners do not suffice.

    “Nice try. I just observed how Bible was used to interracial marriages just like it is used against gay marriages.”

    “Just like”? There it is again. I may as well say “The Bible is used to support belief in aliens just like it is used to say that God is love.” Not all uses of the Bible are alike.

    And lastly, here we go: “Give loving couples a chance.” Not sure what this is supposed to mean. They have a chance. They can live together and love each other to their hearts content. That doesn’t make them a marriage. This is just the kind of rhetorical fluff that confuses the discussion.

  • Glenn March 28, 2013, 7:44 am

    Julie: I would agree with you if civil unions had no connections to children. If it were no more than a statement that “we wish certain conditions regarding property law, tax (where applicable), inheritance etc to apply to us” then there wouldn’t be a problem.

    But if that was all that was intended, it does make me wonder why they basically copied the Marriage Act. The connection to children is central to marriage, and if civil unions were purged of every trace of that aspect of marriage, then it wouldn’t just be a clone of marriage and I would probably not mind that at all.

  • Kevin March 28, 2013, 8:24 am

    Interesting. People propose that an amendment be made so that this Bill conforms to freedom of religion, a real right, and people from “GayNZ” show up and start calling it a “loophole.”

    I’m confused. Who was standing up for human rights again?

  • Peter March 28, 2013, 7:44 pm

    @Nathan
    You clearly don’t understand the situation gays are in, or “what exactly are same sex couples after”. Please read what they want and educate yourself.

    “We stopped killing them and now even legalised Christianity. What more could they want?” – Romans 320AD

    @jeremy
    Funny when I quote the Charities Act 2005 I’m wrong. But when you don’t provide any evidence or examples where Church did not get Charity status, you are right. Move on, you lost that argument.

    Statements like “A little thought and you would realise the govt would soon revoke charitable status if it didn’t find a net benefit to the country” show that you don’t understand how politics work.

    Interesting how when I quote from Jesus’ key note speech, you accuse me taking it out of context without providing any evidence. Either the Law of Moses including 10 commandments still applies or not. There are no other options. Jesus said:
    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished”
    Can you please provide the context in which the Law of Moses is not applicable anymore?

    You claimed that God “allowed” polygamy. I already pointed out that he organised it for David and was part of His plan. (Does God organise thing he does not endorse?) If polygamy was not part of the original plan, when did the original plan changed? Funny how you claim that Jesus reaffirms strongly the original plan (Adam being without a woman?) even when I quoted Jesus supporting Law of Moses which allows polygamy. What a spin…

    @Glenn

    From the point of law it is irrelevant if religion does anybody any good. Charity Act assumes it is beneficial to the community.

    You stated:
    “but this is not about anyone asking for a “loophole,” so that the Act doesn’t apply to them.”
    I thought Celebrant didn’t want to be obliged to solemnize a marriage if it would contravene the religious beliefs of their approved organisation. I’m glad to hear religious people are not asking for this loophole.

    I have noticed that when I quote the Bible, I get told a lot to read some other books about someone’s opinions of what Bible author meant and what the context was. Why are the secondary sources more reliable/better than the Bible, especially when secondary sources don’t ever agree with each other when you do a deep study? BTW I can’t see past the page 71 of Walter Kaiser’s Google books preview, so I couldn’t check the chapter 12. (But I put reading of that chapter to my to-do list)

    You stated that not all uses of the Bible are alike. Sure, but how do I check which claims are backed by God. Progressing revelations seem to be Biblical, so “belief in aliens” might be better claim than “God is love” claim. I see no grounding on truth there.

    Lastly, a casual look at the status of gays in a society [why do they need to live in "closet"] and for example gay teen suicide rates shows that gay’s don’t have a fair chance. How can you not see that?

    @Kevin
    I’m not from GayNZ and I don’t represent GayNZ views.

    Religious people want the law to protect them not to provide services based on sexual orientation. Your “freedom of religion” is right to discriminate based on sexual orientation, and no… don’t discriminate under the banner of your religion. It is loophole like it or not.

    Imagine gays demanding “freedom of gayness” right not to provide services for Christians.

    And I can see that you are confused what the human rights are.

  • Glenn March 28, 2013, 7:53 pm

    “I thought Celebrant didn’t want to be obliged to solemnize a marriage if it would contravene the religious beliefs of their approved organisation. I’m glad to hear religious people are not asking for this loophole.”

    Ah, OK. You’re actually trolling. Thanks for stopping by.

  • jeremy March 28, 2013, 11:33 pm

    @Peter, whats funny is you dont even understand how you are wrong. Yes you quoted the Charities Act correctly,you mentioned one qualification for registration under the Charities Act, but only one. That one is not in and of itself sufficient qualification for registration. There are others, for instance an organisation needs a formal constitution, formal membership and officers, hold and record AGMs, submit annual accounts etc. A group of people cannot simply get together, call themselves a church and automatically gain registration under the Act. As previously mentioned you are indulging in the same out of context sampling as you do from the Bible. It doesnt work with the Bible and it doesnt work with Acts of Parliment either.

    As to the law of Moses, read the quote you picked out, what does it say, all of it that is. Some of the context is right there. Ask your self what “fulfill and “accomplished” might mean and when this might have happened. Hint—its Easter.
    Also on the Law of Moses, it was never a monolithic homogenous whole. There are moral, ceremonial and civil components. Are you suggesting that laws regarding the separation and purity of Israel were intended for gentiles in NZ or that civil law concerning Cities of Refuge, or wandering stock apply to urban NZ. How about OT social welfare rules concerning gleaning in wheat fields, did Jesus mean that these would hold for all time in modern urban industrial settings?
    So in Jesus keynote speech some further study will show you He upheld the moral law [ in fact raised the standards to address motive not just action]. Jesus came to fulfill the law, accomplish its purposes. He did this in his death and ressurection, hence ceremonial law concerning the temple and sacrifices etc is now irrelevant as it no longer serves any purpose. That leaves civil law, which never applied to anyone other than Israel [although the principals embodied are still applicable given that the civil law was often a practical outworking of the moral law in the context of ancient Israel.]
    God allows a lot of things without endorsing them. The major example is found in human free will. God is not willing that any should perish, rather that all people would come to know Him. Yet He does not force Himself on anybody, hence you have the freedom to reject Him, ignore His moral law, even argue against His model of marriage.
    The original plan never changed, people in their free will , rebellion and disobedience ignored it. They did as they have always done and continue to do, choose what they think want rather than their Creators best for them.

  • jeremy March 28, 2013, 11:40 pm

    “Secular” people have retained the right to discriminate based on sexual orientation/attraction. Pedophiles, incestuous couples, polyamorous groups will still not be allowed to have their “loving” relationships legally recognised as marriage under the new definition. Apparently “love” isnt actually enough afterall.

  • Johan Viklund March 29, 2013, 12:17 am

    Jeremy: As long as it’s between consenting adults I see no problem with extending the definition (unless it can be shown that it leads to harm). “Pedophilic relationships” do not fit the consenting adults part and they always involve force. So at least I do not discriminate based on orientation/attraction.

  • Kevin March 29, 2013, 12:19 am

    I’m confused about human rights? No. Freedom of religion = human right. The right to make marriage into something a person or group wants is not a human right. Nothing confused about it.

    Btw Peter, providing benefit to the community means doing good for people within the community. Glenn is right, you can’t just assume religion doesn’t do this. If a religion is true, it does this.

  • Julie March 29, 2013, 6:02 am

    Johan Viklund…’“Pedophilic relationships” do not fit the consenting adults part and they always involve force.’

    Really? Can you sweep hundreds of years of recent history away so quickly?

    Did you know it was the norm for 14 and 15 year old girls to marry men twice that age until a century ago? And even until half a century ago, 15 year old girls could and did still marry men (males who are 18 and older), again sometimes twice their age and older.

    And you know what? Where the man was a decent bloke, their marriages were long and happy. No force involved at all.

    By 21st century western law, these relationships are deemed paedophilia, and by your statement, it is obvious you believe their relationship is an abomination and abuse.

    Some of these women who married at 14 and 15 are still alive to this day, and if you actually spoke to them (as I have, having worked in aged care for a number of years) they would be disgusted by your dismissal that their long and happy marriage to their husbands was a terrible thing and “always involved force”.

    And therein lies the problem with changing marriage to suit the current majority view – what was acceptable 50 years ago, what was the norm 100 years ago is now considered terrible and evil and abuse and should be forbidden, but what was considered sick and wrong 50 and 100 years ago is considered acceptable and should be enshrined in law.

    What is considered “leads to harm” is twisted into whatever people want to make it unfortunately.

    Do you honestly think the 15 year old who married her 25 year old sweetheart and was happily married for 80 years “lead to harm”?

  • Johan Viklund March 29, 2013, 10:06 am

    Julie: Ok, I might have over generalized a bit. Judging by your response I failed to get my point across. This might be me using the words in a nonstandard way, but I always thought that pedophilia involved being attracted to prepubescent children. This is most probably not the case when the girl is 14 or 15 (it’s impossible to draw a sharp line of course). I do not intend to give the impression that there is no gray area, there’s a huge gray area. I would question though whether 14 year olds could consent to marriage in the relevant respect, if they can’t it follows that they are forced (whether they live happily ever after is beside the point).

    Personally I have no problem with relationships between 15 year olds and 25 year olds, but I don’t think they should marry. In the same sense that I don’t think a 15 year old should be able to buy a house. And of course there is no magic date at which a person becomes competent to make these kind of decisions, but we have to draw the line somehow, 18 years seems reasonable. As long as we are aware of the fact that we have gray zones so we don’t all of a sudden call a 22 year old person attracted to a 14 year old a pedophile, that is just plainly ridiculous.

    I agree that harm is a tricky concept and should be used with care, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad concept. For the age criteria for marriage it is probably better to motivate it based on competence of making these kind of decisions. For judging whether homosexuals should be able to marry I think potential harm is the only possible argument against.

    I probably should clarify one thing here though. I don’t really care about whether the law says “marrige” or “civil union” or whatever. But, it has to be the same for both hetero and homo relationships, otherwise we are calling one type of relationship better than the other, and that IS discrimination and I can’t see any good reason for discriminating here (discrimination is not always bad).

  • Glenn March 29, 2013, 11:41 am

    I probably should clarify one thing here though. I don’t really care about whether the law says “marrige” or “civil union” or whatever. But, it has to be the same for both hetero and homo relationships, otherwise we are calling one type of relationship better than the other, and that IS discrimination and I can’t see any good reason for discriminating here (discrimination is not always bad).

    This does not seem true. For example, we call a business entity consisting of two people a “partnership,” but we do not call a large bank a partnership. This isn’t discrimination, and we aren’t calling one better than the other.

    By saying that a union of a man and a man isn’t a marriage, we are saying that it isn’t the union of a man and a woman into which children can be born and which is thereby the basis of the family. Nothing in this inherently involves judgements about “better” or “worse” on the part of the state, and therefore it fails to be discrimination in the sense you are saying.

  • Tom March 29, 2013, 8:38 pm

    Would it be possible for one of the older and wealthier churches to register ownership of the term “married” using historic usage as proof of ownership of the term (like Cadbury owns the shade of purple on chocolate wrappers and Coke owns the ribbon device) and then only allow use of the term to approved other churches and governments under license?

    Tim

  • Anna Wilde March 30, 2013, 2:04 am

    In response to “Will this “affect YOUR marriage?””

    Your use of the currency analogy misrepresents the current social situation. The redefinition of marriage to include same sex unions and thus increase its incidence will not lead to a decrease in its value as the overall decrease of marriage rates will likely still outnumber any potential increase.

    In New Zealand, as in many other countries, the marriage rate is significantly declining. If we are to utilise your currency example, this increases the ‘worth’ of marriage as it becomes scarce.

    http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/people_and_communities/marriages-civil-unions-and-divorces/MarriagesCivilUnionsandDivorces_HOTPYeDec11.aspx

    In 2011 there were 20,231 marriages in NZ.
    A decrease from 20,900 in 2010 of 669 marriages (3.5%)

    Comparatively, in 2011 there were 301 civil unions (of which only 77% were same-sex unions = 231).
    An increase from 273 in 2010 (of which only 73% were same-sex unions = 199) of 28 civil unions (9.3%)

    I think it’s fair to use those 231 civil unions in 2011 as an indication of same sex couples wishing to be legally recognised in forthcoming years, though I will concede that it’s difficult to be certain.
    Even if we are to completely deny the current trend of declining marriages and add 231 more marriages to the 20,231 marriages, we will still be left with a marriage being ‘worth’ significantly less than it did the previous year.

    Furthermore, even if we are to be generous with how popular same sex couples might find marriage once the reform has passed, there would still need to be an unprecedented increase in marriages for the ‘worth’ of the institution to come close to the highly devalued state as indicated in your currency flooding example.

    My proposed alternative: the increasing rarity of marriage does not make it worth ‘more’, but rather indicates it’s decrease in social worth. If you are concerned with preserving marriage as a worthwhile institution, extending its definition to include same sex couples will help bolster its waning value.

  • jeremy March 30, 2013, 9:58 am

    If gold becomes scarce, increasing the apparent number of ignots by alloying(diluting) gold with copper doesnt increase the value of gold, it reduces the value of the individual ignots.

  • Glenn March 30, 2013, 3:03 pm

    Fair call, Anna, the overall marriage rate is declining.

    Every analogy has its limits, and certain aspects of the currency analogy we clearly not intended to be analogous. Nobody thinks, for example, that same sex marriage will “flood” the nation. The proportion of all people who are homosexual is tiny, and clearly not all homosexuals are in committed relationships or, if they are, would choose to get a legal marriage.

    But let’s revisit the currency analogy, trying to take your observation into account: Let’s say that actually the number of Sterling Pounds in the British economy was declining (like the number of legal marriages here in New Zealand). Now let’s say that Hitler sends fake currency to Britain. OK, so let’s say he doesn’t want to flood the UK economy, but he’s still sending in new forms of currency that will go by the name of “pounds.”

    The fact that the number of UK pounds is on the decline means that you have to add a smaller number of pounds from outside to make a difference, proportionally speaking. The same holds for marriage, Anna. If marriage is on the decline, then adding a new kind of relationship to what counts as marriage has a bigger impact than it would if marriage numbers were increasing, because now the new form of relationship being called “marriage” would make up a larger proportion of all relationships called marriage than they would if the existing marriage rate were increasing.

    I think you misunderstand the idea of “worth” here when you say that “Even if we are to completely deny the current trend of declining marriages and add 231 more marriages to the 20,231 marriages, we will still be left with a marriage being ‘worth’ significantly less than it did the previous year.” Having a higher number does not, in this analogy, amount to having a greater value. In the currency analogy, the opposite is true (and again, every analogy has its limits). The point was that when more types of things count as marriage, the concept of marriage becomes less unique. And if, as you note, marriage rates are declining, the uniqueness of the current form of marriage, proportionally, would be impacted all the more if a new class of relationship comes to be counted as marriage.

    Of course, some people are happy to see the concept of marriage impacted in this way (as well as in the other ways that I noted in this article). But we all need to be on the same page in acknowledging that it will be impacted.

  • Anna Wilde March 30, 2013, 10:23 pm

    I completely agree that it will be impacted – but for the better, not the worse as you posit.

    I personally feel ashamed as one who is engaged to be married (and has been married before), that this joyous social convention cannot be shared with all those who seek to verify their committed relationship. I am looking forward to the upgrade. In contrast, I see that you feel similarly outraged that the current definition of marriage may change and could affect your marriage in some negative way.

    While I understand the arguement of your reply, I disagree with two points:

    One – “…Hitler sends fake currency…”.
    I do not see same sex marriage as being a ‘fake’ or lesser version of marriage in any way at all. I feel that on this point we will have to agree to disagree on the grounds of moral beliefs. I think this is a shame as I would like to see your position argued without the need to lean on religion. If you feel you can defend same sex marriage as fundamentally ‘fake’, then please go ahead. Nothing in your blog above challenges the actual sociological purposes of marriage. You have questioned the child bearing features of same sex unions, but that is neither the sole, nor primary purpose of the social construct of marriage.

    Two – Given that the numbers of same sex couples seeking to marry is very small, even with marriage numbers decreasing, same sex marriage would make up just a little over 1% of total marriage numbers as they were in 2011. At this dilution, same sex marriages would have to *incredibly* poisonous to ‘taint’ the remainder of the stock, and I don’t feel that can be justified.

    In regard to your comment on marriage becoming unique; yes. I guess you could think of it as an endangered animal that is rare and precious. However, marriage is not an animal, nor is it a currency, it is a social convention. Coming as I do from the area of social studies, I will disagree with the opinion that marriage is becoming more valuable through its decline. It is a construct of society and within that realm it is being considered increasingly less relevant. We the people are the predators – we are the dollar bill burners. Society at large is doing away with marriage. There is no glossy spin to add to its decline. The two dollar note was done away with because it had no value or common use anymore and those who still possess it are little more than sentimentalists or specialist collectors.

    So getting back on topic, what I would like to ask it this: How do you foresee changes to the current marriage legislation negatively affecting you personally?

  • Aleksis Kavalieris March 30, 2013, 11:18 pm

    Glenn:
    “The point was that when more types of things count as marriage, the concept of marriage becomes less unique.”
    And why does that affect you? Why is it that the worth of a marriage must be measured almost competitively against others? You seem to feel that there is a finite pool of ‘wealth’ (defining the ‘worth’ of a marriage; and I labourously use the word ‘worth’ in this context the same way I would spit it in the context of something like ‘the worth of your spouse’, but hey; when in Rome) that everyone draws from; when others get married, does it chip splinters of happiness from existing marriages? I wouldn’t think you to be so shallow as to let the ‘worth’ of your marriage be defined by anything but the love between you.

    Peace out.

  • Glenn March 31, 2013, 12:24 am

    “And why does that affect you? Why is it that the worth of a marriage must be measured almost competitively against others?”

    Aleksis, this is not what I said, so the shots about me being “shallow” miss the mark. Have another look at what I said. I noted that my own relationship would not suffer. It’s not about “my marriage” competing with other marriages. What I was talking about is the uniqueness of marriage (not “my marriage” or “their marriage,” as though we were pitting individual marriages against each other).

    I am pleased that you would not think me shallow. I will extend the same to you.

  • Anna Wilde March 31, 2013, 12:39 am

    Glenn I don’t understand what you mean by the depreciation of the uniqueness of marriage. I’ve been turning it over in my head for some time.

    Marriage is a positive and uplifting socially sanctioned state. It is a belief. A concept that opens certain doors and closes others.

    If more people joined a club – like the Church, or a library – does that Church / library loose something by its increased popularity?

    I completely agree with Aleksis that marriage is not a finite thing. It is not something we need to guard lest it run out or be used up. It is an acknowledgement by two people and their society that they will love and honor each other. How could this ever be tarnished by more members?

  • Glenn March 31, 2013, 12:40 am

    “I do not see same sex marriage as being a ‘fake’ or lesser version of marriage in any way at all.”

    Taking issue with the counterfeit element of the analogy now is to change the topic. The point is, you said that the analogy was invalid because the marriage rate was decreasing. I granted this point, but showed why this ultimately doesn’t change anything. To now go back and say “but this isn’t counterfeit marriage” without granting the point avoids acknowledging that the analogy works after all. Whether you consider it “fake” or not isn’t the point, just as the “fake” nature of Hitler’s pounds isn’t the point. The point is just that when you introduce a new thing and say that it’s the same as marriage (or pounds), you in fact do something tot he status of existing pounds (or marriages).

    Your second claim is that this one argument does not work because of the very small number of same-sex marriages that we would be talking about, so that they would have to be “incredibly poisonous” in order to make a difference. Notice that I have intentionally avoided negative, evaluative or emotive language when describing same-sex unions. “Poisonous” is not the issue in this argument. The issue is that we’re inflating the concept, which means that we are saying less when we say that people are in a marriage. Maybe they’re in the kind of union that is the basis of the family unit… maybe not.

    “How do you foresee changes to the current marriage legislation negatively affecting you personally?”

    I want to draw attention to my earlier comment in the blog entry itself:

    The claim that “this won’t affect your marriage” reminds me of a related comment. A friend, on seeing that there is a website called “Protect Marriage,” which promotes the conjugal understanding of marriage, remarked, “protect marriage from WHAT?” Here too the assumption was that this change won’t do anything to marriage (or to my marriage, or the marriages of other people). Of course there is a trivial sense in which that is true: Nobody is going to come into my home and force me and my wife to live differently. But if that’s what people mean when they say that this change wouldn’t affect my marriage, they are wasting time with pointless observations. Nobody ever claimed that this would happen.

    The issue has never been that I personally will suffer some direct negative fallout from this law change. I didn’t claim that, and I stated that I am not claiming that. I also said:

    I’ll set aside the rather depressing impression this gives, namely that politically vocal people assume that everyone is motivated by nothing but self-interest. Unless something directly impacts you, you couldn’t possibly have a principled opinion for or against a given policy. To put it gently, I hope that people are able to be a bit deeper and more principled than this.

    I pointed out that a change to marriage legislation, in a liberal democracy, is everyone’s business because legislation is passed by those who act on our behalf.

    I pointed out that the notion of marriage under the Marriage Act will change, which necessarily affects all those whose unions are recognised under the marriage Act. This is because the change doesn’t change the status of homosexual individuals, rather it changes marriage (the thing that lots of other people have) so that it becomes something that some same-sex attracted people want (and contrary to your first comment in this thread, I never suggested that they all want it, or that nobody else wants this change).

    And later in the post I mentioned another change that will affect those other than same sex-attracted people who wish to marry someone of the same sex – namely the troubling implications that this change would have from a legal perspective for those celebrants who do not wish to support same-sex marriage or solemnise them.

    I didn’t claim any direct personal impact for me.

  • Glenn March 31, 2013, 12:47 am

    “I completely agree with Aleksis that marriage is not a finite thing. It is not something we need to guard lest it run out or be used up.”

    If that is the objection then it is founded on a misunderstanding, because nobody has said this about marriage. What I have said is that when more things count as a marriage, the uniqueness of the status that counts as a marriage is less than what it was.

    I used an extreme example in this blog post – if everyone who lived on the same street was counted as married, then the status of being married would clearly not mean what it once did. It would mean less, not more, and this would not be because it was being used up – that would be silly. Of course same-sex marriage is not this extreme, but the concept is the same.

  • Anna Wilde March 31, 2013, 3:03 am

    1. “Taking issue with the counterfeit element of the analogy now is to change the topic.”
    I disagree it is not to change the topic.

    You do not succeed in defending the analogy if you stand by equating same sex marriage with counterfeit money.

    The connotations in your example builds a social stigma to the notion of same sex marriage. (You also didn’t have to use Hitler. That was a bit of a low blow. You seem to not want to take any kind of responsibility for or even understand the suggestive power of language.)

    If a marriage between same sex people is considered legitimate, it is then simply printing more perfectly legal money, which is what the reserve bank does in many different circumstances. If we equate divorce or widowment to bank notes being damaged or lost, then to print more money does nothing to devalue marriage. Especially if the reprinting rate is still below the loss to damage rate.

    Aside from that – the use of currency is a really poor analogy because it doen’t match social understandings and uses of marriage. I vote that we should limit our discussion of this analogy, as I’m finding it frustrating to defend something that doesn’t correctly apply to what we’re talking about.

    2. …. I’m sorry I didn’t quite get what your response was there. Could you please reword what you were claiming the true issue is?

    But in that paragraph you mentioned “I have intentionally avoided negative, evaluative or emotive language”. Using Hitler and his ‘fake money’ is a good example of emotive language. I’m sure I can and will find others later. Yes, you were not directly saying that same sex couples are the equivalent to Hitler, you were much more underhanded.

    In addition, this blog post is nothing if not a moral, social evaluation of same sex marriage. Please defend your impartiality if it is not.

    3. “The issue has never been that I personally will suffer some direct negative fallout from this law change.”

    Just to be clear, I wanted *personal* ramifications of this reform, so I worded my question to you personally. I did not mean to restrict the ramifications to those that will affect you personally.
    If you did not mean to refer to personal ramifications of marriage (rather than impacts on a national level), then why did you entitle the section “Will this “affect YOUR marriage?””
    That clearly suggests that this issue is deeply personal and that you were about to address how it affects the readers personal marriage. You even capitalised it.

    How about we consider then, that seeing as this reform will have NO PERSONAL IMPACT on you or your relationship / marriage with your lovely wife, yet it will very certainly have a personal impact on a same sex couple, why don’t we just spread the love and let them in?
    There is clearly no harm.

    4. The uniqueness of marriage.

    Does marriage have to be unique to be valuable? I don’t think so. As I illustrated in a previous comment, there are things which are considered good to be a part of but that goodness is not due to a status of uniqueness.
    If marriage were common it would not change what it is; a social acknowledgement between two people of their pairbonding – to love and commit to one another. I would actually prefer it if marriage were quite common, and would be delighted if everone on my street were married.

  • Alabaster March 31, 2013, 8:14 am

    “seeing as this reform will have NO PERSONAL IMPACT on you or your relationship / marriage …. why don’t we spread the love and let them in?”

    Anna, Let us say that some for-profit businesses lobby for recognition as non-profit businesses and the tax benefits that go with it because they occasionally operate similarly to non-profits, or give some money or goods away to certain causes in a way similar to non-profits (and in some cases give more than some of the actual non-profit businesses). Sure there is some trivial empirical difference between the non-profit and for-profit businesses (that the for-profits make at least a little money), but both groups want to help people (otherwise they wouldn’t be ), and really, isn’t compassion the most important thing? Don’t all businesses deserve the same recognition if they both really want to help people. Is it really fair to stigmatize for-profit businesses by denying them the right to have better social recognition and legal acceptance of their charitable work? And really, would allowing these few for-profit businesses that really want to be called non-profit really change the nature of what it means to be a non-profit?

    On the same note of talking about the nature of marriage, I think I will quote Masha Gessen, a gay rights activist and journalist, during a panel talk:

    It’s a no-brainer that we should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist [cheers from the audience].

    That causes my brain some trouble. And part of why it causes me trouble is because fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there—because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie. The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist. And I don’t like taking part in creating fictions about my life. That’s sort of not what I had in mind when I came out thirty years ago. I have three kids who have five parents, more or less, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have five parents legally….

    [After my divorce,] I met my new partner, and she had just had a baby, and that baby’s biological father is my brother, and my daughter’s biological father is a man who lives in Russia, and my adopted son also considers him his father. So the five parents break down into two groups of three…. And really, I would like to live in a legal system that is capable of reflecting that reality. And I don’t think that’s compatible with the institution of marriage.

    Let’s be honest about what the future holds. If we believe that people are were earlier arguing for redefinition are going to stop arguing for future redefinition, we are kidding ourselves. The next step will be recognizing polygynous, polyandrous, and polyamorous relationships as marriage. Efforts are already underway. Brazil has recognized relationships of more than 2 people, and so has Holland. And though people do not seem much inclined to talk about it, this DOES open the door towards reevaluating traditional stances towards pedophilia and other sexual behaviors that have traditionally been seen as “abnormal.”

    On a final note, if we’re going to try and take the moral high ground of impartiality (all of us have biases, even you Anna), you accusations of Glenn being underhanded, if true, are at least as bad as your attempt to paint Glenn as not being impartial why implying that you are being partial. If you were impartial, you wouldn’t be arguing for homosexual marriage. Furthermore, I find your continual focus and nit-pickery of Glenn’s analogy to be trite and obfuscating of the real issue. He has conceded that an analogy isn’t a perfect comparison and that it will break down at some level (imagine that), and your continual focus on the analogy just undermines…

  • Glenn March 31, 2013, 9:38 am

    “If a marriage between same sex people is considered legitimate, it is then simply printing more perfectly legal money”

    It’s the same, Anna. Printing more money does devalue existing money. The analogy works regardless.

    “Yes, you were not directly saying that same sex couples are the equivalent to Hitler, you were much more underhanded.”

    This is false, but for me to get into a “no I wasn’t” with you would not be productive.

    ” You even capitalised it”

    Yes, I did. That was largely to express the depressing reality that some people just can’t seem to think about political or social issues beyond what’s personally in it for them or how things will directly, personally affect them, as I went on to explain. But clearly it’s a misunderstanding after I have said that I am not talking about direct personal impact on my relationship with my wife, to then turn around and ask me for examples of such impact.

    “There is clearly no harm.”

    I have detailed the impacts. Whether you want to call them harm or not is your prerogative, but replying with the whole “spread the love and let them in” is just to throw reason to the wind. Nobody here has said that they can’t love each other. When you say “let them in” you simply assume the very thing in question: namely that if we just allow them, they could in fact be married. But this is the informal logical fallacy of begging the question where one just assumes the very thing in dispute. Such a union isn’t marriage.

    “I would actually prefer it if marriage were quite common”

    So would I, but this doesn’t mean I want more things to count as marriage, it just means I wish more people saw the good in marriage and chose it.

  • jeremy March 31, 2013, 9:43 am

    But same sex marriage is currently illegitimate, thats the whole point of a law change redefining the nature of marriage to make same sex marriage legitimate. Thats one of Glenn’s main points, for all that the arguments have focused on rights, love and emotion, the proposed law change being debated by parliment is the Redifinition of Marriage Act.
    Which is rather ironic because it means no gay/lesbian couples will ever be able to get married as it is currently understood. They will be able to have a new redefined marriage which wont mean the same thing at all. The word “marriage” will not mean the same thing any more, at least legally. So there will be some kind of self delusion and dishonesty going on, equating “marriage” with the traditional understanding while relying on manipulation of the meaning in law to make it possible.
    And yes i would regard same sex marriage as counterfeit, and not even a very convincing one. No amount of legal redefinition of the word marriage will ever make same sex couples into the almost universal throughout history and culture basic family unit that serves to reproduce and raise subsequent generations and provides the unit of society.

  • Glenn March 31, 2013, 4:03 pm

    Anna – Andis and Aleksis (I mention you because you’re all connected and are all challenging my view, which I do like) – I appreciate your contributions to the discussion, however I’ve been fielding questions and challenges on multiple fronts (here, a few Facebook threads and in private), so I’m going to leave the conversation for others while I get on with writing new material.

    Thanks. :)

  • Anna Wilde March 31, 2013, 4:06 pm

    Godwins law. This thread was doomed anyway.

  • Peter March 31, 2013, 9:45 pm

    @jeremy
    Notice how according to Jesus law or Moses applies “until heaven and earth disappear” which as far as I know has not happened. And of course the people who walked with Jesus, James’ Church in Jerusalem, followed the law.

    Of course Charities have other requirements. That was not the point. The point is that religious organisations don’t need to provide anything else to the community than “advance their religion”. You keep on ignoring my comments…

    @Alabaster
    You have nice slippery slope there from gay marriage to polygamy to paedophilia. (But you missed the natural disaster that gay marriage will bring).

    The interesting thing about that is that [almost] everyone here thinks that slippery slope argument is really bad, but none of the Christians want to point that out because you are on their side. People here rather write how pro-gay marriage side use “cocky” and “ill-thought rhetorical parading”, and let anti-gay marriage site make nonsense arguments. I guess we should not expect a fact based discussion anyway.

  • Alabaster April 1, 2013, 6:31 am

    Peter,

    You can say that I’m using a slippery slope argument, and perhaps you’re even right that some of the other posters think I’m engaging in a slippery slope. If others think I am engaging in such behavior I hope they’re willing to point out where they think I’m flawed. I’m willing to admit that I’m a flaw human and need correction on many activities. That being said, I hope they give a better reason than saying “You said some things that are linked, thus slippery slope.” Can you point out where the slope becomes unjustified instead of asserting it like an axiom? I don’t think I’m engaging in a fallacy. I’m merely willing to engage more than the immediate issue of same sex marriage. I’m willing to look down the road and to engage in what is a logical extension of the basic premise of advocates right now: That consenting persons who love each other should be together; the idea that marriage is a fundamental right to individuals who love each other. Love conquers all is the mantra, right? So, let me ask you this; what restrictions do you place upon this institution since you believe that it should be redefined? If we’re going to buck traditional views, why limit it to just two people? If we’re reevaluating things, why not reevaluate issues like age of consent? Did you not see what Julie wrote above? Why not let those who are legally defined as children get married at 15, or 14 (legal in 16 countries) or 12 (legal in 3 countries)?

    Since you say that I’m engaging the slippery slope, would you, a proponent of same sex marriage, be willing to say that you’re affirmatively against relationships of more than two, consenting adults being legally recognized as marriage? That you’re affirmatively against an age of marriage (and consent) below, lets say 16? That 10 or 20 years down the road your opinion will be the same? Just remember, as the Latin saying goes, with silence comes consent.

  • Julie April 1, 2013, 7:00 am

    John Viklund: “I probably should clarify one thing here though. I don’t really care about whether the law says “marrige” or “civil union” or whatever. But, it has to be the same for both hetero and homo relationships, otherwise we are calling one type of relationship better than the other, and that IS discrimination and I can’t see any good reason for discriminating here (discrimination is not always bad).”

    My understanding is that in NZ, civil unions are already legal? And here in Australia, civil unions have the same legal rights as defacto partnerships.

    The problem is, where civil unions are identically legal to marriages all over the world, gay activists are still fighting to call it marriage. I agree with you that discrimination isn’t always bad and that is why I’m opposed to having a gay union called “marriage”. Marriage has always been recognised as between a man and a woman. Refusing to call something “gay marriage” is simply that not-bad-discrimination you refer to. The very fact that you can identy the difference between a “hetero and homo relationships” means you recognise that there is a difference. It is not discriminatory in the negative sense to say that marriage is between a man and a woman, and the relationship between two men or two women is something else, as long as they have the same legal rights. Gays and Lesbians may even benefit from having their unions have separate names from each other because they are inherently different.

    The problem is, gay activists don’t want the same rights as marriage – by their own admission they want to destroy the instituation of marriage altogether. If gay activists were truly about equality, they would be more than happy with civil unions for all relationships, and leave “marriage” to be a religious ritual carried out in churches. But the problem is legal civil unions for all with identical rights for all just isn’t good enough.

    The argument for them has never been about equality and has all been about destroying marriage.

  • jeremy April 1, 2013, 9:23 am

    @Peter, earlier your claim was that Churches “automatically” qualify for Charitable status and the tax and rate exemptions this confers, this has been shown incorrect. Now you are talking about religious organisations and advancement of religion. There are lots of religious organisations that arent churches. In my experience the Christian churches i have been involved with have all been dedicated to charitable work in their communities and overseas. I guess your complaint comes down to a combination of ignorance a bitchiness that you dont get to decide who gets charitable status and who doesnt. By the way as Julie pointed out there are LBGT and gay advocate organisations with charitable status.

    Now on an entirely different note an analogy, not perfect but it may illustrate the point

    2+2=4 4 to the power of 7 = 16384

    Law + prophets = Judaism Judaism fulfilled by Christ = Gods plan of salvation for mankind.

    Now im guessing you are not a believer, certainly you appear unaware of some very basic Christian doctrine, but fulfillment doesnt mean doing away with or the end of the law and prophets. It means their purpose has been served, the foundation they built is still there.

    Im not sure why you are fixating on the law and prophets with respect to polygamy. The ancient near eastern cultural practice of a king taking all the possesions of a vanquished opponent was not part of the law of Moses, neither was Polygamy mandated. There were some laws concerning the proper and fair treatment of women in polygamous marriages but thats not a mandate its protection for the women involved.

  • Peter April 1, 2013, 5:43 pm

    @Alabaster
    You implied that same sex marriage opens the door towards pedophilia. It’s your argument so you provide the evidence for it. I don’t see any evidence for this. If fact countries which allow same sex marriage don’t allow pedophilia. (BTW. your slope
    should have started one step higher; from the current marriage. But of course you didn’t start from there because you are there)

    The only safe haven for pedophiles have been religious organisations which are now the strongly against same sex marriage. You
    also mentioned countries where kids under 15 allowed to marry – I bet those are the countries where conservative religious people made the laws and in those countries gay marriage is illegal. If anything it looks like kids are safer in countries where gays are allowed to marry and religious organisation don’t make the rules. So please provide some evidence to your slippery slope or withdraw your claim.

    Sex marriage should be evaluated on its merits (pros and cons), not based on random baseless assertions and well poisoning. Gay marriage in NZ might lead to end of all wars, but without evidence let’s leave it out from this discussion.

    And my views about marriage of kids under 16 or polygamy or immigration policy of Spain are irrelevant when we discuss gay marriage. And consent does not come with silence in this case.

    @Julie
    You wrote that “Marriage has always been recognised as between a man and a woman”. This is clearly wrong. Read your Bible and history books.

    I think gays recognise discrimination against gays better than you. Trust me on this one.

    You asserted “by their own admission [gay activists] want to destroy the instituation of marriage altogether.”
    This is not true. Some do, so don’t. Someone’s opinion is not everyone’s.

    If one Christian murders a person, that does not make all Christians murderers.

    @jeremy
    I guess you don’t want to get my point about charities. Ok fine.

    You also lost me on “2+2=4 4 to the power of 7 = 16384″. Is 16384 some kind of magic number related to salvation? Perhaps you better quote the Bible that you salvation math.

    Please understand that if someone challenges your view of the Bible it does not mean that they are unaware “very basic Christian doctrine”. You did not comment what I wrote about “until heaven and earth disappear” and now you state that fulfilment doesn’t mean doing away with or the end of the law and prophets. So why write about the fulfilment if it is not end the law. Either the law including Ten Commandments still stand or not – pick your side if you want to continue the discussion.

  • jeremy April 1, 2013, 7:22 pm

    @ Peter, sorry the analogy didnt help. There are no magic representations in the numbers, just the idea that much bigger numbers and concepts like exponentials dont do away with or make little numbers and addition pass away, or you dont get to 16384 without going through 2+2=4. The law and the prophets pointed the way and laid the foundation for Jesus Christ.

    We have already discussed that the law is not some kind of monolithic homogenous whole, comprising moral, ceremonial and civil law. I have already asked you whether or not you think Jesus was saying Israelite civil laws concerning gleaning wheat fields as a social welfare provision are to last forever and be applied in a contemporary industrial urban environment. Jesus sacrifice and death was the ultimate sacrifice and acheives what the endlessly repeated sacrifices of the ceremonial law never could, to insist on continuing the ceremonial law is to deny Jesus. As to the moral law (ten commandments), that has never changed. Jesus said Love the Lord your God with all your heart mind and soul and love your neighbour as yourself, on these two depend all the law and prophets. Of course as one of my friends pointed out, we get to choose Gods justice (law) or mercy (Christ) to be judged by, and in that sense the law never passes away, but wants to or is foolish enough to believe they could live a life of perfection in their own strength. As Paul said, who ever is guilty of the least of the law is guilty of all of it.
    As to pick aside if i want to continue the discussion, you are presenting a false choice between two incorrect positions.

  • jeremy April 1, 2013, 7:29 pm

    @Peter, do a little research on inappropriate sexual contact with minors, apparently its more common in state schools in the USA than in the RC church, and the same kind of cover ups and discrete transfers undertaken to move the problems on. Doesnt attract the same media attention though.

  • Peter April 1, 2013, 9:16 pm

    @jeremy
    Jesus never advocated that part of the law, ceremonial law, is not applicable any more. Where is this in the Bible? Early Christians followed the ceremonial law.

    Jesus did not think Israelite civil laws concerning gleaning wheat fields as a social welfare provision can be applied in a contemporary industrial urban environment. Jesus thought the world is going to end ~2000 years ago. He said “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:28). Clearly all his contemporaries are dead by now and Son of Man has not been seen yet. But Jesus thought that the Law is to be kept “until heaven and earth disappear”.

    I don’t understand what Jesus sacrificed. He is nothing less, he did not lose anything and he did not die. What exactly do you think he sacrificed to offset the ceremonial laws? Where is this in the Bible?

    If moral laws did not change is it still morally right to kill homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13; it’s not civil law)?

    I don’t get what you mean that I am “presenting a false choice between two incorrect positions”. Jesus talked about the law, he did not separate it to the components. So it is correct to state that the law still stands, or it does not. If you dispute this please quote the Bible where Jesus talks about this.

    You made a claim that in the US state schools are equal or worse that RC church when it comes to inappropriate sexual contact with minors. Can you provide some evidence to this?

    I haven’t seen leaders of state school system systematically for decades to transfer people to different states and countries, keeping secret records in Latin of events, sending instructions in diplomatic (immunity) mail from headquarters to make police/FBI investigations more difficult, regularly paying offenders substantial sums of money to move on, or letting the whole district go Chapter 11 (while transferring fund elsewhere) rather than address the abuse issue. Note that RC headquarters knew about this and kept this secret for many decades, and probably over a century.

    And this is not only RC church. Others including Anglican are pretty much the same.

  • jeremy April 1, 2013, 11:24 pm

    Well i repeat my previous comment you are clearly unaware of lots of basic Christian doctrine and what the Bible says as well.. I wonder what you think The Son of Man coming in His kingdom means. Who do you think the Son of Man was? What do you think his Kingdom is/was? And you seem confused in what you say, Jesus did not die? Are you a muslim claiming it was Judas atthe crucifixation and not Jesus. One second you are reading scripture extremely literally out of context and disconnected from the overall picture and commentary of the rest of the Bible eg the Pauline teaching on Christs death being the ultimate sacrifice fulfilling once and for all the purposes of the ceremonial law. Or how about Peters testimony concerning God saying the food laws were no longer binding and the apostles figuring out that gentiles did not need to become Jews to be Christians. The next moment you are claiming Jesus didnt die.
    And how on earth do you jump to Jesus thinking the world was going to end 2000 years ago, especially when he warned that fruit loop types would go around predicting this but his followers were to ignore them as only God the Father knew this and the knowledge was unavailable to men.
    Go and read the rest of the verses you keep partially quoting, Matthew 5 : 17-19 notice who said something about fulfilling the law. So yes you are trying to propose a false choice between two incorrect alternatives. The moral law still stands,Christ reiterated it and raisedthe standard( sermon on the mount ), Christ said of himself that He came to fulfill the law (v 17). And lastly the practice of homosexual sex is immoral ( contrary to moral law ), but the death penalty for such was a civil penalty. By the time of Christ the Jews could enforce little or none of their civil law,it had been a long time since Israel had functioned as a sovereign state, so i am guessing that most of the civil law had long since passed away.

    Evidence concerning sexual abuse in US state schools and cover up is well documented and a simplegoogle search will find it.

  • Peter April 2, 2013, 12:39 am

    @jeremy
    Sorry I was probably not clear with my comments and now our discussion about doctrines is going way off topic.

    Generally if you make a claim (like abuse in RC Church and US state schools) and when asked to provide evidence you state that “a simplegoogle search will find it” – you have lost the argument. Obviously your opponent can always say “my counter evidence is only one google search away”. If the evidence is so easy to find and you did not bother or were not able to find it, it is not considered to exist.

    I just don’t believe that you actually think that U.S. Department of Education and state governments are running top down paedophile protection, cover up and relocation program which have lasted many administrations in the White House. You can’t be serious.

    But what has paedophilia to do with gay marriage anyway? I explained above to Alabaster that less religious governments are generally better for the protection against child abuse. Allowing gay marriage in NZ might actually be better for child protection.

  • Anna Wilde April 2, 2013, 1:40 am

    I came across something interesting while working this evening:

    Both the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association support same sex adoption. Both respectively claim that there is no evidence adequate that their parenting causes harm.

    So I guess we can now cross that one off then too.

  • Anna Wilde April 2, 2013, 1:41 am

    *sorry, adequate evidence

  • Julie April 2, 2013, 1:49 am

    Peter – you are right about one thing – that I should have explained better. Marriage has always been recognised as being between a man and one or more females. I’ve read lots of history books and nowhere have I seen legalised unions between two men or two men. Even with polygamy, the culture has always been that the women are married to the man, not to each other. There are extremely rare incidences of women having more than one husband, but again – the recognised legal union has always been opposite sex with the multiple women (or multiple men) not considered as being married to each other.

    You say gays recognise discrimination against gays better than me. Maybe so… but don’t ever try to pull that gays understand discrimination based on sexual orientation better than me. During my four years at my first university, the discrimination against straight people was horrific. If you were straight and not gay/lesbian/bi/tranny/asexual/some form of “queer” or actively into promoting “queer rights” as they called it, than you were seen as the scum of the earth discriminated against frequently and severely. Being 100% totally straight was seen as the ultimate sin, and to be married (to someone of the opposite sex) was grounds to be treated like dirt – you were considered to be the lowest of scum because you were offending both “queers” and “wymyn” by being straight, married and “giving into patriarchy and the subjugation of women” for being married.

    What made it worse is that under the university’s discrimination policy that all discrimination based on sexual orientation was officially called “homophobia”…. ie being discriminated against for being straight wasn’t even accepted as a possible – their claim was you could only be discriminated against if you weren’t straight. Same way the university dismissed even the most serious racial discrimination if the victim was white.

    So while I can’t speak from being discriminated against for being gay, I can definitely say I have suffered serious discrimination due to my sexual orientation. Straight people can be discriminated against for their sexual orientation too

  • Julie April 2, 2013, 1:59 am

    Also Peter: ‘You asserted “by their own admission [gay activists] want to destroy the instituation of marriage altogether.” This is not true. Some do, so don’t. Someone’s opinion is not everyone’s. If one Christian murders a person, that does not make all Christians murderers.’

    I think you misunderstand. This argument comes up a lot when discussing Christianity versus Islam. Opinion and action are VERY different things. One person’s opinion (and also one person’s actions) do not represent a whole, but there is a thing called a “majority”.

    The majority of christians share a lot of opinions, and a lot of gay activitists (as opposed to gay people in general) share a lot of opinions (with other gay activists I mean). There are sub groups within any large group. It’s safe to say for example that evangelical christians share a lot of opinions (and fight for particular causes) that the general casual “christian” does not care about. Same as gay activists share a lot of opinions (and fight for particular causes) that the average general casual gay person doesn’t care about.

    I’ve met a lot of gay activists, and 99% of them want to destroy marriage as an institution. Most of the general gay population couldn’t care whether marriage survives or doesn’t (some want gay marriage, some don’t, some don’t care either way) but I specifically said activists.

    Comparing gay activists to gay people as a whole is as bad an example as comparing the average woman to a feminist activist group – you cannot compare an extremely vocal subgroup to the whole. I was referring to the extremely vocal subgroup of activists.

  • Julie April 2, 2013, 2:10 am

    Anna the problem is there hasn’t been adequate research done on same sex parenting, period.

    It hasn’t been common enough for long enough to study properly.

    And studies that have been done, (other than suffering from the bias that goes with low numbers of “test subjects”), all have serious other issues. Studies are often done in retrospect which is a major n0-no in psychological studies. Studies suffer from all sorts of selection biases – the way subjects are picked is often very flawed – how researchers find same sex parents is often very different from how they pick their opposite sex parents.

    Studies also often suffer from other selection biases as to how subjects are picked. Even though it would make most sense to only select opposite sex parents based on one (or both parents) not being the biological parent of the child/children, this is often left out.

    And the biggest selection bias of test subjects is due to how same sex parent families form. It’s really simple for a straight woman to get knocked up basically. Just about any straight person can become a parent. Currently (at least in Australia) for a lesbian to become a parent, it’s nearly always complicated and often expensive. And for a gay man to become a parent? even more complicated and expensive. Nearly always involving surrogacy, adoption, etc. (BTW nearly all studies rule out same sex parents where the children involved are the biological offspring of one parent and the other parent was an actually [opposite sex] partner because then the target parent is considered not 100% homosexual and not wanted in the study) What this means is only rich, very stable lesbian and gay people get included in the study, whereas any old straight couple is included. All of the studies that have shown same sex parenting to be “equal” to straight parenting has involved this particular bias – ie only the cream of the crop of same sex parents are included (and less capable same sex parents are excluded) whereas all straight couples (good or bad) are included.

    Despite the APA and APS claim to support same sex parenting, the reality is no study has ever “proven” that same sex parenting does NOT cause harm to the children. And children aren’t something that should ever be risked – until something is proven not to cause harm, it shouldn’t be encouraged where children are involved.

  • Anna Wilde April 2, 2013, 2:46 am

    A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. While there are many truths in your reply Julie, there are so so many untruths and false assertions.

    The one I just can’t move past this evening though is:
    “not 100% homosexual”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinsey_scale
    I’ve linked you to Wikipedia because I think it will provide something easily readable for you.

    No sociologist worth their salt would ever consider eliminating someone from a study because they were “not 100% homosexual”. When you make statements like this it pulls everything else you say into disrepute.

  • Anna Wilde April 2, 2013, 3:12 am

    bwt: Innocent until proven guilty.

  • Julie April 2, 2013, 5:06 am

    Anna did I say I BELIEVE anyone is “100% homosexual”? No I did not. In fact I believe the total opposite.

    I don’t need to read the wiki of the Kinsey scale. I have a four year degree in psychology, and the study of sex and relationships was one of my majors. My lecturers included some of the best in the entire of Australia – and despite the fact that they were also VERY pro same-sex unions and same-sex parenting, even they could admit their was nothing to back up their belief. Next time you get arrogant and talk down to someone, you may want to check their qualifications on the subject matter.

    If you had bothered asking what I do believe – I believe that anyone can be attracted to anyone else at all regardless of gender. That everyone is can be bisexual. I just believe some attractions are more appropriate than others and some attractions should not be acted on – and that includes homosexual attractions, paedophillic attractions and people in relationships acting on attractions to people other than their partner.

    What I discussed wasn’t my personal belief – what I brought up was a flaw in most of the major studies into same sex parenting. Most studies rule out people from their same sex cohort if they have every been involved in an opposite sex relationship. It is the studies that declare that someone isn’t “homosexual enough” for their criteria.

  • jeremy April 2, 2013, 9:01 am

    @peter, unfortunately my one finger at a time touch screen tablet devce does not allow me to cut and paste, insert links or even have more than one tab open at a time (at least so far i have not been able to find out how to do so. This also accounts for most spelling errors and spacing errors).
    So while i would normally agree about the provision of links to supporting evidence, i simply cannot do so. If you are genuinely open to evidence then search for Washington Post, Sexual Misconduct Plagues US Schools, as a starting point. You were the one who said, the only safe haven for pedophiles have been religious organisations.
    I agree this has got somewhat off track.

  • jeremy April 2, 2013, 9:14 am

    @Julie, i have just been reading some of the criticisms of the Regnerus study which compared outcomes for children of stable hetero marriages with those for children of where some homosexual behaviour had occurred on the part of a parent. One of the major criticisms does seem to be that “some homosexual behaviour” doesnt qualify as homosexual enough, and that his study should have used people identifying as exclusively homosexual.

  • Alabaster April 2, 2013, 12:30 pm

    You implied that same sex marriage opens the door towards pedophilia. It’s your argument so you provide the evidence for it.

    The argument was that the basic motivation for redefining marriage, that people who love each other have a right to get marriage, is the basis for the argument. If someone don’t like the logical extensions of the argument which are being used to advocate same sex marriage, that it is up to those who are attempting to justify the redefinition to explain why those logical extensions should not apply. The burden is on you to explain why redefinition should or should not have other considerations other than the sex of the individuals, since the basic argument is about love.

    The only safe haven for pedophiles have been religious organisations which are now the strongly against same sex marriage.

    Right. And the only safe have for honest people is in politics. Look up the West Africa Sex Scandal.

    I bet those are the countries where conservative religious people made the laws and in those countries gay marriage is illegal.

    I guess Sweden, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Germany, Greece, Mexico, and Denmark are all oppressive theocracies or far right nations being manipulated by radical religious people.

    my views about marriage of kids under 16 or polygamy or immigration policy of Spain are irrelevant when we discuss gay marriage. And consent does not come with silence in this case.

    It is part of the logical extension of the reasoning for redefining marriage. You’re attempting to focus on pedophilia, while not even touching upon why group marriage. You’re in a dialogue, and I asked you a question about how this redefinition of marriage will work. Dismissing your position as irrelevant doesn’t get rid of this question. If anything, you should be emboldened to stake out what you believe should be the definition, since you’re on the side who wants to redefine it. Do you think that the definition of marriage will be redefined and that’ll be the last of that? Or do you believe that those fighting to redefine marriage will continue to fight to redefine it?

  • Glenn April 2, 2013, 12:53 pm

    The only safe havens… *cough*NAMBLA*cough*

  • Peter April 3, 2013, 10:17 am

    @jeremy
    Thanks for the further info. I read the “AP: Sexual Misconduct Plagues US Schools” article and it agrees with my statements above. There were failures like “no consistent enforcement” of laws, but “more states now require background checks on teachers, fingerprinting and *mandatory* reporting of abuse” From the article:
    “Arthur Sensor, the former superintendent in Oelwein, Iowa, who vividly recalls pressuring Lindsey to quit on Feb. 18, 1964, regrets that he didn’t do more to stop him back then. Now, he says, he’d call the police.”
    Usually Churches (like Anglicans) don’t have immediate mandatory reporting of abuse to police. They investigate it first themselves. Public schools call police. You didn’t address my statement above:
    “I haven’t seen leaders of state school system systematically for decades to transfer people to different states and countries, keeping secret records in Latin of events, sending instructions in diplomatic (immunity) mail from headquarters to make police/FBI investigations more difficult, regularly paying offenders substantial sums of money to move on, or letting the whole district go Chapter 11 (while transferring fund elsewhere) rather than address the abuse issue. Note that RC headquarters knew about this and kept this secret for many decades, and probably over a century.”

    Clearly the situation is much worse in RC Church. You are kidding yourself if you think otherwise. But this has nothing to do with gay marriage in NZ.

  • Peter April 3, 2013, 10:18 am

    @Julia
    First you claimed that:
    “Marriage has always been recognised as between a man and a woman”.
    Now you claim that:
    “Marriage has always been recognised as being between a man and one or more females.”
    But you are still wrong.
    In Rome two men were sometimes publicly married, including Emperor Nero. This was so widespread that Christians put the end to it with Theodosian Code.

    There are plenty of recorded examples from the history if you care to investigate; Pan Zhangand Wang Zhongxian, St. Serge and St. Bacchus, Pedro Díaz and Muño Vandilaz… But even if your claims were true, arguing that “tradition” is a good reason for keeping thing is a bad argument. Traditionally women did not have right to vote and were property of men. Would you like to go back to that tradition?

    And ooh please with your oppressed heterosexual victim complex. You have no idea. Just observe our language how many gay related words are used as insults. Compare that to heterosexual words are used as insults.

    But this is real LOL:
    “Being 100% totally straight was seen as the ultimate sin, and to be married (to someone of the opposite sex) was grounds to be treated like dirt – you were considered to be the lowest of scum”
    That is a joke right…

    I think I have spend more time with gay activists than you. And I can tell you that most of them don’t care about your heterosexual marriage. They care about their right to marry. So claim that “99% of them want to destroy marriage as an institution” is nonsense. And I don’t get your point about “majority”. So minority is guilty be association? Just don’t make claims like “[gay activists] want to destroy the instituation of marriage”. Stick with the truth.

    Funny how you dismiss scientific studies when you don’t like the results. There is adequate research done on same sex parenting and for long enough. Period.

    The studies show that having two mums is better than having one mum for a child, and there is no difference of outcomes of kid from straight and gay parents. Period.

    And let’s be honest. No amount of evidence and results from scientific studies would change your mind. Your view is ultimately based on a particular non-scientific book, not on scientific research. So it is not science that is biased, it you who is biased.

    You also don’t understand how scientist research and “prove” work by stating:
    “the reality is no study has ever “proven” that same sex parenting does NOT cause harm to the children. And children aren’t something that should ever be risked – until something is proven not to cause harm, it shouldn’t be encouraged where children are involved.”

    Let me use your logic by stating:
    the reality is no study has ever “proven” that Christian parenting does NOT cause harm to the children. And children aren’t something that should ever be risked – until something is proven not to cause harm, it shouldn’t be encouraged where children are involved.

    Should we now take kids off the Christian parents as per your logic? Why not?

  • jeremy April 3, 2013, 5:24 pm

    @Peter, i only directed you to one article, there are others and govt stats etc available. The US school system isnt a single centrally governed institution like the RC church so institutional cover ups will look quite different. Just quietly encouraging teachers, sports coaches etc to move on, scgools doing their best to avpid costly litigation. Should take very little searching to find the articles and research. Also US govt own stats put the incidence of sex abuse in state schools as higher than that in RC church.
    And to quote myself, exceptions dont invalidate the norm. Nor does the occurrence of exceptions necessarily justify creating a new norm. You choice of Nero was unfortunate, the guy was a fruit loop, a foaming at the mouth pyscho, murdered his mother, had a married women as his mistress, had a guy castrated then ‘married’ him supposedly because he looked like one of Neros dead wives. Hardly an example for any sane person to follow.

  • Peter April 3, 2013, 5:27 pm

    @Alabaster
    regarding “redefining marriage, that people who love each other have a right to get marriage, is the basis for the argument.”
    No. Gay activist do not advocate paedophilia. You build a straw man argument, do a slippery slope somersault and shift the burden of proof to your opponent. Excellent juggling there Sir.

    West Africa Sex Scandal was bad and UN should have handled it a lot better. No excuses. But was UN keeping secret records of events, sending instructions in diplomatic (immunity) mail from headquarters to make police/FBI investigations more difficult, regularly paying offenders substantial sums of money to move on. Note that RC headquarters knew about paedophilia and kept this secret for many decades, and probably over a century. UN workers don’t take an oath of secrecy which offenders can use for protection.

    You talked about countries were under 15 year olds can marry.
    I claimed that “I bet those are the countries where conservative religious people made the laws and in those countries gay marriage is illegal.”
    Then you cited “Sweden, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Germany, Greece, Mexico, and Denmark” as an example.

    Well in those countries under 15 year olds can NOT marry, and those countries have most liberal laws. Your response was a complete fail.

    You stated:
    “You’re attempting to focus on pedophilia”
    I didn’t introduce paedophilia to this discussion. You and jeremy brought it up. That topic has nothing to do with gay marriage in NZ. You are just trying to poison the well. Same sex marriage should be evaluated on its merits (pros and cons), not based on speculations against the evidence of irrelevant issues.

    I don’t know if definition of marriage will evolve in the future. Some people might “fight” to include polygamy and some might “fight” to redefine it back how it is now. It is the great thing to have freedom to discuss it and a feature of democracy.

    You are not worried about having current marriage laws when those might lead to same sex marriage. But you are worried about same marriage laws which you think might lead to polygamy laws. It doesn’t sound consistent fear.

    @Glenn
    you said “The only safe havens… *cough*NAMBLA*cough*”

    Obvious troll is … obvious

  • Glenn April 3, 2013, 6:38 pm

    “Obvious troll is … obvious”

    Peter, naughty. You know that NAMBLA is a homosexual organisation that supports paedophilia. So let’s abstain from telling tall tales about havens for paedophilia and, as you say, stick to the point.

    As you were.

  • Alabaster April 3, 2013, 7:49 pm

    Gay activist do not advocate for pedophilia

    I never said they did. I’m saying they have not given a justified account of how the reasoning for redefining marriage to include homosexual couples does not equally apply to other to other groups. The basis of the reasoning is flawed. Claiming I’m setting up strawmen and slippery slopes when I’m simply dealing with and critiquing the logic put forward by the activists is ignoring the logic I’m working with. It is not up to me to give a free pass to poor logic simply because the logical conclusions are currently impractical on a social level.

    Here’s an example of what I am getting at. If I say it is a fundamental right for people to own a car, and then I turn around and say a only people who meet a certain requirement have that fundamental right, it makes me look like a hypocrite because I claim a fundamental right for humans, but then deny it for other humans. That is essentially the flawed reasoning that those who advocate the redefinition are using. If you’re going to advocate for change, go ahead, but the “love conquers all” arguments don’t fly unless you want to deal with the repercussions of other kinds of redefinitions like group marriage (which you don’t seem to be against, but also don’t seem to want to outright endorse).

    West Africa Sex Scandal was bad and UN should have handled it a lot better. No excuses.

    Good. As long as you acknowledge that other non-religious groups have had problems with pedophilia. On a note, the UN was actually suppressing some of the documentation for a while. They were preventing a publication of a book by a former UN worker. Ultimately though, the issue isn’t to dismiss any such sex scandals, but rather to not target one group when plenty of other groups have the same sorts of problems. Jeremy mentions the education system in the United States. Some states have horrible processes when it comes to addressing these kinds of issues. Usually it is states with large teacher’s unions. You can find plenty of instances where these unions admit the criminal is should be prosecuted, and then hinder the conviction process. I would say that is equally as bad as anything the Catholic church has done.

    Well in those countries under 15 year olds can NOT marry, and those countries have most liberal laws. Your response was a complete fail.

    You are partially correct, and I will partially retract my claims. I incorrectly cited the age of sexual consent, which is below 15 years of age and below in each of those countries, with majority of them being 13 or 14 years of age. Sweden and the Netherlands do allow legal marriage at 15, though the rest have higher ages of marriage. But these younger couples are being denied the right to marry, even though they love each other. These consenting loving couples are being denied the right to marry. Do you see what I’m saying? Look at these last two sentences and replace younger with homosexual. Do you see what I’m saying when I say the basic premise for revision is flawed?

    I didn’t introduce pedophilia to this discussion

    I never said you brought it up. I said you focused on it. In your reply, you never actually engaged group the idea of marriage. You focus on why legalizing pedophilic marriages is a straw man (without mentioning why the basic premise for the redefinition of marriage doesn’t support such a thing), but never talk about why group marriage is part of that slippery slope you keep accusing me of or why reasoning for this redefinition doesn’t open the door for that sort of thing.

    You are not worried about having current marriage laws when those might lead to same sex marriage.

    No, no I’m not. I’m in agreement with Glenn that government’s shouldn’t be in the business of sanctioning relationships. Look at what he says about it. It more or less represents my opinion.

  • Julie April 4, 2013, 7:47 am

    Peter I’m sorry mate you have no idea how discrimination works. Just because there is more discrimination against non whites, do you deny that in certain places that whites are discriminated against (sometimes quite harshly)? Do you say just because most gender discrimination is against women, do you claim men cannot be discriminated against for their gender (sometimes quite harshly)? Just because there is more homophobia out there does not preclude heterophobia (and sometimes severe heterophobia) from existing.

    I have known people who were bashed at my old university for being straight. Yet bigots like you would deny that is a hate crime because apparently (according to you) people who are straight couldn’t possibly be discriminated against or abused for their sexual orientation.

    Personally I wasn’t bashed – just discriminated against quite severely in a number of ways, including not being able to access certain university services that were supposed to be “all inclusive” because they were run by the queer society and straight people weren’t welcome. There were places on campus where if people knew you were straight, you didn’t dare go for fear of violence or worse.

    So while you may find heterophobia a joke, I don’t. Nobody (gay or straight) should have to avoid any area of their university for fear of being bashed for their sexual orientation. Heterophobia is real – it may not be as common as homophobia, but saying there is no such thing as victims of heterophobic violence is as sick as telling men who have been raped by women that their crime doesn’t exist.

    “I think I have spend more time with gay activists than you.” Really? How would you know mate? I spent 7 years at my first university and my friends could be split it into two groups – the christians I hung out with one day a week or the gay activists I hung out with 4 days a week. You don’t know me, and you don’t know my history. Maybe you and I hang out with entirely different subset of activists, but the heterophobic feminazi lesbian activists I hung out with nearly every day made it very clear they were intent on destroying the institution of marriage and I constantly copped heterophobic abuse for being straight and married. The only reason it wasn’t worse (and only reason I wasn’t ever physically harassed) is I could kick their butt in the wrestling ring.

    ” There is adequate research done on same sex parenting and for long enough. Period.”

    Really… link me please?

    “The studies show that having two mums is better than having one mum for a child, and there is no difference of outcomes of kid from straight and gay parents. Period.”

    Link?

    “And let’s be honest. No amount of evidence and results from scientific studies would change your mind. Your view is ultimately based on a particular non-scientific book, not on scientific research. So it is not science that is biased, it you who is biased.”

    Actually that’s where you are wrong. I’m happy to change my mind on any subject based on well done research. I have no problem changing my mind based on real evidence and logical arguments. Until a few years ago, I was against civil unions – yet I was willing to change my mind because it was pointed out to me if someone is going to have gay sex, then it’s better for society that they only do with one person rather than many. I don’t support the choice to have gay sex, but if people are going to be immoral, it may as well be contained as much as possible

    to be continued…

  • Julie April 4, 2013, 7:58 am

    ‘You also don’t understand how scientist research and “prove” work by stating:
    “the reality is no study has ever “proven” that same sex parenting does NOT cause harm to the children. And children aren’t something that should ever be risked – until something is proven not to cause harm, it shouldn’t be encouraged where children are involved.” ‘

    Sadly I am aware. Scientifically proving a negative in many situations is difficult or impossible. But we’re talking about helpless vulnerable children in this situation. …. let me respond to something else before finishing that thought.

    “the reality is no study has ever “proven” that Christian parenting does NOT cause harm to the children. And children aren’t something that should ever be risked – until something is proven not to cause harm, it shouldn’t be encouraged where children are involved. Should we now take kids off the Christian parents as per your logic?”

    Actually studies have shown that christian parenting is beneficial for children ie beneficial = opposite of harm ie proving that they aren’t harmful. So by my logic and yours, they should be encouraged.

    Also, study after study after study has shown that the best situation for kids (least harmful, most beneficial) is in an intact nuclear (biological mother and biological father) family. Kids in these situations do better than any other type of family – sole mother, sole father, mother/stepfather, father/stepmother, gay parents, lesbian parents (haven’t seen any studies yet with polygamous families included). Often those family types cannot be avoided with the massive amount of divorce and repartnering (straight or gay) out there, but it’s not fair to deliberately create families in these situations – hence why I’m against IVF for single women and lesbian couples, and adoption for any single person or homosexual couple.

    It’s well known in research circles that anything other than the nuclear family is second rate, and it’s selfish of anyone to bring a child into that situation on purpose. There is nothing that can be done about children in those situations after death or relationship breakdown, but it’s just cruel and selfish to deliberately create a child in that situation.

    The government should be doing everything in it’s power to strengthen nuclear families instead of legalising less than ideal parenting situations. I spent six years as a single parent for six years through no choice of mine, I can tell you, it is a second rate situation and anyone who deliberately brings a child into a situation where they don’t have both a mum and dad at home is just incredibly selfish.

  • Peter April 4, 2013, 10:04 pm

    @Glenn
    Yes, NAMbLA is[/was] a homosexual[?] organisation that supports paedophilia and even more they did actually advocate paedophilia. Organisation seem be almost gone ” Media reports from 2006 have suggested that for practical purposes the group no longer exists and that it consists only of a web site maintained by a few enthusiasts.” (Wiki)

    RC Church are/have provided to pedophiles:
    – Safe Havens with diplomatic immunity and no expedition in Vatican
    – Safe Havens of info and document transport in diplomatic post
    – Member sworn secrecy if confessed
    – Financial legal support, housing and full pay
    – Assignmen to new job and housing to new state or country
    – Safe Havens of a Country Club (south west US) to recover between job changes. This included pay, meals and housing.
    – Safe Havens of retirement with pay, health care and housing
    – list goes on and on…

    So what are the safe havens NAMbLa provide?

    Nooo… you will not answer, you are just trolling on your own blog.

    @Alabaster
    Same sex marriage advocates do NOT have to “justify account of how the reasoning for redefining marriage to include homosexual couples does not equally apply to other to other groups.” Just like you don’t have to justify account of how the reasoning for current marriage does not equally apply to other to other groups. You are right that it is not up to you to give a free pass to poor logic, but you are using arguments with logical fallacies. Think about that.

    I have not used “love conquers all” argument, but same sex marriage has worked well in many countries without problems you seem to paint.

    Let’s put the context to your claim “Sweden and the Netherlands do allow legal marriage at 15”:

    Marrigeable age (Wikipedia)
    Sweden: 18, or younger with permission from the county administrative board (LST). The county administrative board may only give permission when there are ‘special reasons’ but although the custodians of the underage should be heard if possible, the consent of the custodians is not required. Although the law specifies no lower age limit to enter into marriage, the policy of the LST is to not grant any permission to a person under 15 years of age.
    Netherlands: 18, 16 with parental consent, under 16 with personal permission from the queen.
    In many Near East ultra-religious countries, just like many European Christian countries ~200 years ago, allow marriages for under 15…
    Kids don’t have the same rights as adults. Move on from the kids argument. Underage marriage or group marriage has nothing to do with same sex marriage in NZ.

    Me: “You are not worried about having current marriage laws when those might lead to same sex marriage.”
    You: “No, no I’m not.”
    Me: So then don’t worry about changing current marriage laws to include same sex marriage.

  • Glenn April 4, 2013, 10:14 pm

    Peter, isn’t it a tad foolish to ask a question and then to say “Nooo… you will not answer,” in the same comment in which you asked the question?

    The point is, you simply didn’t think through your comment. You went away and looked into NAMBLA trying to find a comeback, and to your relief, your saw that Wiki says they don’t exist for all intents and purposes. Yet clearly they did indeed provide a safe haven for paedophiles. What’s more, they are on public record publishing their claim that the gay rights lobby should include their cause as a legitimate one for homosexuals.

    Don’t now try to pretend that I have denied anything that Catholic Church officials / clergy did, because we both know I did no such thing. It’s therefore a waste of time now trying to bring the Church’s deeds to my attention. You simply misspoke, that’s all. Not a biggie – this is a side argument in which I am not involved other than to interject and highlight your error.

  • Peter April 4, 2013, 10:17 pm

    @Julia
    So I have no idea how discrimination works, I deny hate crimes and now I’m a “bigot”. I seem to be a horrible person.

    Oh the name calling and irony … you might want to read the history of the word “bigot”.

    Sounds like majority gay mafia ran your university with “straight” no-go zones with worse than violence punishments. They should close that “Uni”. Why did you hang out with gays [“heterophobic feminazi lesbian activists”?] 4 days a week if they were the most dangerous thing there? And you hung out 4 days a week for 7 years with these dangerous gays, but never go bashed. You were very lucky having wresting skills.

    BTW I have played golf on a course where I had to pay 28 times more than other players because of my white skin colour. I have a picture of their large sign of entry course fees. But the scale of discrimination against gays are way larger than heteros, trust me.

    Why do you want links to [meta] studies? You already dismissed all these studies being biased. You would just dismiss Australian psychology.org.au research on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Parented Families being rubbish.

    You comment is a lie:
    “It’s well known in research circles that anything other than the nuclear family is second rate”
    Actually the family studies literature indicates that it is family processes (such as the quality of parenting and relationships within the family) that contribute to determining children’s wellbeing and ‘outcomes’, rather than family structures, per se, such as the number, gender, sexuality and co-habitation status of parents.

    Don’t make up stuff. Please stick to the truth.

    You still don’t get science so you came to wrong conclusion from your premises.
    You can’t prove the negative even by studying opposite as you claim. Finding benefits does not equal NOT to cause harm. Alcohol and drugs for example can be beneficial and harmful.

    Please don’t claim that your logic is mine and please do not engage in science discussion.

    you said:
    “The government should be doing everything in it’s power to strengthen nuclear families instead of legalising less than ideal parenting situations”

    No. They should carefully balance where to spend money and effort based on democratic process.

    But do you really think they should make single parenting illegal? Two mums is better than one.

    First you claimed that:
    “Marriage has always been recognised as between a man and a woman”.
    Then you claim that:
    “Marriage has always been recognised as being between a man and one or more females.”
    Then I gave examples how that is not true either.
    Now your silence and non-acknowledgment is telling…

  • Glenn April 4, 2013, 10:24 pm

    “Please stick to the truth.”

    OK folks, if we could at least stick to the subject that’d be great. If you find that the topic is fading from your comments and all that’s left is bickering over things like hate crimes and paedophilia, that’s when the comments are probably best not made. Yeah. Bossy me.

  • Peter April 4, 2013, 10:39 pm

    @Glenn
    I acknowledge that NAMbLA exists and I’m willing to accept ANY real safe havens THEY provided during their WHOLE existence. So please tell us what the safe havens NAMbLA has ever provided. What are these “safe haven for paedophiles” you are talking about? Let me say foolishly again… you are not going to provide them.

  • Julie April 5, 2013, 1:38 am

    “Group marriage has nothing to do with same sex marriage in NZ.” And what makes you think that?

    The polygamous/polyamarous movement use EXACTLY the same arguments for legal recognition of their “marriages” as the “same sex marriage movement”. There are many polyamarous activists who would be horrified by your comment.

    I didn’t ignore the rare example you gave as the exception to opposite sex marriage. What you mentioned was something that happened very briefly in a rare point of time and was never tradition. So rare in fact that most history buffs I know who I asked about it had never heard of it either. It’s not to say it didn’t happen, but it is so rare that it hardly on anyone’s radar. A one in a trillion event.

    At my first university, I hung out with the people I trained sport with. The gym was a safe place to be as the university made sure it was safe from any form of discrimination because they were obsessed with their athletes. I was never a top athlete (represented the state once in something other than wrestling before a serious injury ended that), but I trained a lot and trained hard. And not all the feminazis I hung out with were abusive heterophobes – just a lot of their friends were. When I gave up training for working to support my husband financially, I was more than happy to cut off contact with them.

    It’s partially when I returned to uni to study my third degree that I decided to go to a different university.

    It wasn’t just the heterophobia and man-phobia, my first university had some really messed parts of it. Obsessive greenies who were happy to commit violent assaults against anyone they declared anti-green. I was glad when they did away with compulsary student union fees half way through because I was sick of my hard earned money going to pay for transport for green-nazis to travel interstate to attack workers at uranium mines. The whole place was messed up. Unfortunately it also happens to be academically one of the top two universities in the countries and they’d offer me a full scholarship (worth nearly $30,000) to go there.

    It was starting to clean up it’s act in the last year I was there, and I’ve heard from others it’s better now, but a decade ago it was a very messed up place.

    Oh yeah… I was really good at wrestling and martial arts. I probably would have ended up competing at a national level if I hadn’t got injured. Still can kick butt but I just keep aggravating old injuries when I try.

    Anything else I missed?

    Oh right… meta studies… they have their purposes but careful examination of the original studies need to be done. Not all meta studies are equally reliable. I was genuine about reading the ones you were referring to though if I find the time.

  • Glenn April 5, 2013, 7:16 am

    Peter, NAMBLA is such a safe haven. Or do you think that they hand all of their members over to police? What a strange challenge.

    Yours was just a rhetorical overstatement not thought through. As I have said, however, it also has nothing to do with the marriage equality Bill.

  • Glenn April 5, 2013, 10:18 am

    Peter, I’ll only go through this once – and only because the subject seems to be of some importance to you, and then I’ll ask that the issue of paedophilia be dropped completely.

    Some years ago now I and a number of other people had the misfortune of interacting with a particular vile man from America who had been or still was (this wasn’t clear) an advocate of “man boy love.” We were involved in an effort to revoke his ability to live in New Zealand, and effort that was successful. As part of this unpleasant experience some of us were in contact with former associates of his in the US who had first-hand knowledge of his involvement with NAMBLA and of the activities they were involved in. The organisation is all about paedophiles getting together to legitimise their lifestyle. Their meetings included such awful things as discussions about how to not get caught and how to make the testimony of a child against you seem less plausible.

    You are not the first person I have encountered who wanted to defend NAMBLA in this regard, downplaying or even denying what they do/did. But your innuendo is flat-out wrong. They are an organisation that is openly homosexual, openly pro-paedophilia, and most certainly about protecting those who share in their lifestyle. You do not want to be someone who defends them – and I do not mean by that to suggest that you are defending them. I just mean that this is not an error you want to make.

    This comment thread is no longer going to be used to discuss paedophilia.

  • Alabaster April 5, 2013, 11:28 am

    Same sex marriage advocates do NOT have to “justify account of how the reasoning for redefining marriage to include homosexual couples does not equally apply to other to other groups.”

    Why not? Like Julie said, polygamous and other movements use the same rationale to justify their beliefs. If you are arguing for a redefinition, you have to explain why these arguments are substantially different from the arguments same sex marriage advocates use. The whole reason I’ve brought up anything I’ve brought up so far to illustrate that the reasoning is not different, and that the distinctions (age, group size) are meaningless once you start using the arguments that are commonly used for gay marriage.

  • Glenn April 5, 2013, 12:15 pm

    FWIW, surely if people were to re-write the definition of marriage to include only consenting adults and they also treated marriage as a right that can be had by the parties wishing to marry, children are out but groups of more than two, on pain of a human rights violation, are in.

    Surely to deny this is mere cultural prejudice. It would be up to advocates of SSM to explain why not. Notice that this is not a slippery slope argument about what will happen.

  • Peter April 5, 2013, 11:40 pm

    @Julie
    Thanks for sharing your Uni experiences. It sounded horrible. Luckily you got a free full scholarship and too bad you had to pay the union fee to provide funding for others.

    You said
    “[Same sex marriage] happened very briefly in a rare point of time and was never tradition. So rare in fact that most history buffs I know who I asked about it had never heard of it either. It’s not to say it didn’t happen, but it is so rare that it hardly on anyone’s radar. A one in a trillion event.”

    Wrong on all counts again.
    – I gave examples from ~500BC, 60AD, 350AD and 1061AD; so it was NOT “very briefly in a rare point”
    – It was a tradition which Theodosian Code stopped in Rome. At that point Christians got to power and redefined marriage. Gay persecution become tradition.
    – Most history buffs could just google this in 2mins and get the info. There a plenty of other examples. Get a book on same-sex marriage history. (Hmmm… David in the Bible… O.O?)
    – Those were NOT “a trillion event”. BTW there has only been ~100Billion people and perhaps less than 20Billon marriages. If it had been “a trillion event” they would have not issue the Theodosian Code in Rome to stop it.

    It continues to amaze me how facts have so little value in same-sex marriage discussions.

    @Glenn
    Funny how anti-same-sex marriage people introduce an off-topic idea here. When I respond, tell how it is off-topic and tell them to get back to the actual topic, I get told that this “subject seems to be of some importance to me”. Funny how you selected me to address this.

    Interesting how you claimed that I “wanted to defend NAMBLA” when I clearly have not done so. I just asked you to back up your claims with facts. Interesting how you claim that I “denying what NAMbLA do/did” when I agreed with you that they “support paedophilia” and I went even further stating “even more they did actually advocate paedophilia”. Do you want to sling more mud on me?

    I have noticed that people start personal attacks here (like calling be a “bigot”) when they can’t argue with facts.

    The US Constitution provides freedom of speech and assembly and the Supreme Court ruled for freedom of association. So the US law, not NAMbLA, provides some kind of safe haven for advocates of illegal activity like legalising cannabis and pro-euthanasia groups.

    You said
    “Or do you think that [NAMbLA leaders] hand all of their members over to police?”
    Why would they do that? Have all members committed a crime? What are the charges? Being their member, being suspicious or perhaps… maybe committed a crime?? They did not doing anything illegal in NAMbLA meetings as undercover cops have witnessed.

    If you have information regarding their illegal activities please let us know and inform the police.

    Should we hand over members of all pro-euthanasia, pro-cannabis and gay activists in NZ to police because they want to change the law? What about Christian groups?

    @Alabaster
    Why should I justify positions I’m not advocating?

    If I use the same argument/rationale for same-sex marriage what you are using for hetero-marriage, you don’t need to justify same-sex marriage. Your logic does not work and you are still stuck on your strawman “age” issue.

    Let’s see if Glenn declares the “group size” issue to be dropped like he did with the “age” issue.

  • Julie April 6, 2013, 12:06 am

    Peter not being busted by cops doing illegal activity doesn’t mean that a person or group isn’t involved in illegal activity. Groups in particular are very careful about participation in illegal activity. They carefully vet members before introducing them into the illegal side of things. I can’t speak for NAMBLA, I have no experience, but I know what my ex and his mates into illegal stuff got up to and how careful they were before letting anyone into their circle of trust – and how good they were at getting away with it, even when their activities were reported to the police.

    And it’s not illegal to have a political organisation meet together to change laws from something is currently illegal to try and change it to something legal. Homosexual sex used to be illegal in many states of Australia – it wasn’t illegal for groups to form to try and change that. And it’s not illegal for people to meet together to try and get paedophilia legalised either. Doesn’t mean it’s not immoral and disgusting

  • Glenn April 6, 2013, 12:07 pm

    “Funny how you selected me to address this.”

    I did this because you started defending NAMBLA. Yes another person first mentioned paedophilia, I asked that it be dropped (because I do not consider it relevant, and it’s a pretty nasty topic to needlessly drag in here), and they did so. You seem not to want to.

    I described NAMBLA not simply advocating “man boy love” but actually assisting its members in not getting caught. It is clearly a false challenge to dare me to hand over names to the police, as though I was there, writing down names. That ends now thanks, Peter. The next comment in which you even remotely appear to defend NAMBLA or perpetuate the paedophilia issue will be removed. The same applies to others, but you persist. Any issues with this can be taken up with me in private. I can’t make that any clearer.

  • Glenn April 6, 2013, 12:20 pm

    “Let’s see if Glenn declares the “group size” issue to be dropped like he did with the “age” issue.”

    No, actually the group size issue is relevant, and I think you’re resisting acknowledging that. The rhetoric that was used to promote both civil unions and now same sex marriage is that the law should not discriminate – presumably thinking about what consenting, loving adults do with each other. And clearly it’s possible for there to be a loving, consenting group of three or four who wish to be together.

    You can’t just say that the current practice is unfairly discriminatory, therefore it should be widened… but just a little bit. Let’s hear the criteria that you think should exist for marriage and why.

  • Buzz Moonman April 8, 2013, 1:11 pm

    The thread article does not offer secular reasons why the secular humanist liberal social democratic government of New Zealand should not extend marriage to monogamous homosexual couples. The secular state has no business basing laws on iffy religious beliefs or emotionalism, though as an ordering principle, SHLSD has the ability to correct such errors in law.

    I am reminded of the irrelevant arguments in New Zealand (and later elsewhere) put forward during the late 1800s in an attempt to prevent legislation passing that was the first in the world to give women the vote.

    Lame and unsubstantiated arguments were used against giving women the vote – god is against it, it’s unnatural, women are dysfunctional, most women don’t want to vote therefore none need to, voting is defined as a male activity as it has only ever been thus, the sky will fall in on society and the family, a husband’s vote will no longer be unique etc.

    But the vacuousness of these arguments and their irrelevance to secular law, and the dishonesty of the politicians and lobbyists who opposed the legislation, was eventually defeated and Lord Glasgow signed the bill into law in 1893 though there were still attempts to stop it.

    Today, the idea that women could not or should not vote does not occur to New Zealanders.

    But not all Christians think their god hates homosexuals and just as Christians supported and campaigned for the right of women to vote, so there are Christians who support homosexuals, and monogamous gay marriage.

    In his very readable book Against Atheism, Rev Ian Markam, Professor of Theology and Ethics at Virginia Theology Seminary makes his case based on scripture for why he and other Christians argue that biblical Christians should support same sex marriage for monogamous homosexual couples.

    Markam has also said “We already affirm and celebrate the relationships of the elderly couple – perhaps a widower and widow – and those with special needs and those whose cross includes the pain of infertility. We are right to affirm and celebrate such marriages. And the time has now come when the same spirit should be extended to the committed gay or lesbian couple. If marriage is a good thing, then let us have even more of it.

    The Church really should have no problem with the accommodation of same-sex relationships within the marriage institution. Indeed one could argue that perhaps it is more surprising that there is so much demand for monogamous marriage.

    Whereas the concept of God as triune is central to Christian identity, the variety of relationships that the institution of marriage can accommodate is not. Those who have made this central to the identity of Christianity have completely misunderstood the tradition of Christianity.

    And therefore put positively, we should witness to the importance of monogamy. And orthodox Christians should welcome the gays and lesbians to the institution. The time has come for the gift of monogamy to be shared,” Markam said.

    I suggest that just as New Zealand gave women the vote before Australia, and NZ and the UK made women Prime Ministers before Australia and treated them with honour as Prime Ministers, so New Zealand and the UK will extend marriage to monogamous homosexual couples before Australia does. The irony of it for Australia is that our Atheist PM who is not married to her partner will be beaten to legalizing monogamous gay marriage by the next Prime Minster, a male Catholic, who is having his view changed by his lesbian sister and I think he will do a U turn and bring his party with him on this legislation during his term as PM.

  • Glenn April 8, 2013, 1:30 pm

    Buzz:

    “The thread article does not offer secular reasons why the secular humanist liberal social democratic government of New Zealand should not extend marriage to monogamous homosexual couples.”

    1) We don’t have a “secular humanist” government, but even if we did, this is irrelevant as the arguments against accepting this change to not depend on the rejection of humanism, and they are accessible to people of any faith, or no faith.

    2) The blog article explains why we lack good reasons for change in this regard. Feel free to specify which lines of argument you take issue with. You do not appear to have interacted with any of them.

    3) The blog article links to an article that offers a defence of the conjugal view of marriage, for your perusal.

    4) Your reference to not allowing women to vote is irrelevant, emotive bluster.

    5) Your quotes about the elderly or infertile do not serve their intended purpose, for they depend on examples where reproductive systems are not working. How is this analogous to healthy, fully functional men who cannot have children together? or are you suggesting that same-sex attraction itself is a defect?

    Cheers
    Glenn

  • Julie April 9, 2013, 4:40 am

    Buzz two quick comments… I’m amazed anyone thinks Tony Abbott will win the next election. Krudd has more of a chance!

    And who says Christians “hate” homosexuals? Just because one does not agree with another person’s life choices, does not meant that they hate that person. I think my best friend is dating a selfish jerk and she’s making a horrible mistake being with him. Does that mean I hate her? no. I think she should dump his abusive selfish behind and get a decent boyfriend – I think her life choice is really really stupid, but it doesn’t stop me from loving her to bits.

    Never mistake hating a person’s life choice with hating the person.

  • Glenn April 10, 2013, 8:40 pm

    Buzz, for your edification, this is what secular humanism is:

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=main&page=what_is

    Secular humanism is a comprehensive, nonreligious lifestance incorporating:
    » A naturalistic philosophy
    » A cosmic outlook rooted in science
    » A consequentialist ethical system

  • Buzz Moonman April 12, 2013, 12:27 pm

    Julie

    While Krudd would bring back some of the working class Catholic voters who wont vote for an Atheist and the blue collar unionists who don’t like sheilas in charge, there are enough who will still go for the Abbott as he is a real bloke and not a ego maniac non bloke like Krudd. And Krudd still has not got the numbers and changing leader again will give Abbott so many free kicks.

    As for Tony Abbott, well he finally released a policy this week on broadband and its enough to scare a pile of voters back to Labor so he has successfully whittled down the majority he was going to get but unless the media bail on him, he will be our next PM. Murdoch has whipped up the anti Labor frenzy very successfully. It’s worked in the past and will again.

    Julie says “Who says Christians hate homosexuals”

    Well I didn’t say that did I. You are misrepresenting me and flogging a straw man.

    But as you know, some members of the USA Christian right like to wave around banners that say “God hates fags” and they tell us that they know God and know what he thinks and wants. But then they are Yanks and didn’t benefit from being settled post Enlightenment like Australia and NZ, so perhaps we should give them some slack as they have a some flaws in their ideology, but I wouldn’t want to be a gay person near those folk. My statement was correct. There are Christians who do not think their god hates homosexuals and there are Christians who do.

    BTW Glenn – In his book Battlelines, Tony Abbott calls members of Australian governments secular humanists, so the term has broad usage. While the humanist aspect of his Jesuit upbringing certainly informs Abbott’s social justice policy, that humanist policy has to be framed in a secular manner and becomes secular humanist law.

  • Buzz Moonman April 12, 2013, 12:33 pm

    As I said Glenn, you live in a society that has secular humanist liberal social democracy as its ordering principle. And throw in green for environmental awareness too. So it’s SHGLSD

    How would you describe NZ governments? Are they secular? Humanist? Liberal? Social? Democratic? Environmentally aware?

    Your article does not give secular reasons for not extending monogamous marriage to homosexuals. Your iffy religious beliefs are not a reason for a secular government to base laws on. That they have done so in the past is not a reason to continue doing so. Your arguments can be dismissed as they are not relevant to NZ’s secular government.

    The women’s vote issue is relevant as the the same reasons you trot out where trotted out back then. But New Zealanders moved on and applied secular reasons to the voting laws and now you don’t have any problems with women voting, do you.

    They are Markham’s quotes. I give them to show that here is a Christian leader with a very impressive CV who disagrees with you on biblical and social grounds and he says his views represent many other Christians.

    Having children is only one of the reasons heterosexuals get married. Other reasons to get married apply to homosexuals as well as heterosexuals.

    And you know that I do not mean homosexuals have a defect or are dysfunctional.

    I think you need to be a lot clearer about what this dysfunction is that you think homosexuals have. I know of heterosexual people who are dysfunctional and then create dysfunctional families. Should we stop them marrying?

    What exactly do you mean when you say homosexuals are dysfunctional? Be clear, do not use weasel words.

    You also need to make a case for why secular law on monogamous heterosexual marriage has not led to secular law for polygamous heterosexual marriage in NZ. (correct me if I’m wrong and there is polygamous marriage in NZ.) Then you need to make a case for why religious law when it is used as the ordering principle has done/does accept polygamous heterosexual relationships, well for men anyway.

  • Glenn April 12, 2013, 12:41 pm

    Buzz, it isn’t really relevant that Tony Abbott called members of a government secular humanists. He might be right, he might be wrong. Who knows, maybe some of them are.

    But this doesn’t establish a “broader” usage of the specific term “secular humanist.” It only means that Abbott thinks that some specific people are secular humanists. What I was pointing out to you is that you’re mistaken to suggest that our government is secular humanist. The fact that some of our members of parliament are does not alter this fact. Some of them are Christians. One of them is a Muslim. Some of them are vegetarians. But this does not mean that our government is secular humanist, Christian, Muslim or vegetarian.

    Secular humanism is an outlook that is not representative of our government. In fact it includes beliefs that it would not be appropriate for our government to stand for. So you’ll just have to settle for “secular” instead, which merely means relating to worldly affairs. Handling a subset of secular issues is the role of government.

    The ordinary way of talking about our society is to say that it is a form of the liberal democracy (this is the normal term used in the literature in political science / political philosophy, for example). I think that covers it nicely.

    I’ll ignore the comments about “weasel words.” I know an invitation to a flame war attempt when I see one, and I decline. If you’ve got an identifiable question about my comments, I’m open to it, but I’ve learned to ignore most of the snark.

    Lastly, we agree that same-sex couples can have a subset of the reasons for their relationships that opposite-sex couples have. So too can business partners.

  • Buzz Moonman April 17, 2013, 5:35 pm

    John Key does not make laws for the benefit of your god. He is not making the laws of your god the laws of NZ.

    When Key makes laws he does it with the consideration of the welfare of the humans of NZ in mind.

    Humanism is a system or mode of thought or action in which human interests, values, and dignity (ie welfare) predominate.

    As a pragmatic politician in our kind of democracy, he is using secular humanism and green liberal social democracy as his method of making those laws. That secular humanism may well be informed by the humanism he finds in Christianity. I presume that he identifies as a Christian in matters of religion.

    This is not the same as identifying as a Secular Humanist. You are confusing personal identity with using an ordering principle for society.

    The good thing about using SHGLSD as an ordering principle for our society and why it is superior to your preferred ordering principle of the will of your god, is that SHGLSD is inclusive.

    You can participate in SHGLSD whether you are a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Secular Humanist etc or even a Communist. All members of society are welcome as long as they don’t try to force their authoritarian ideas into our law.

    Liberal democracy is not an adequate description of our ordering principle any more. It hasn’t been for a long time. Our system has evolved a long way from what Locke wanted. Since liberal democracy was invented, social democracy has also been invented as has environmentalism and secular humanism.

    In our system, Liberals use socialism and Socialists use liberalism. Its called the mixed economy. And it works better than any other system humans have widely practiced. It has given us the prosperous lives we lead in our countries. Your ordering principle failed to do that and failed so badly that Lock had to reach back to pre Christian Greece and reinvent democracy.

    Locke would be horrified to know that my PM is a woman and an Atheist to boot and worse than a Hobbesian Atheist. Neither would his toleration have extended to the next PM of Australia, a Catholic.

    We’ve evolved and our society now uses secular humanist green liberal social democracy as its ordering principle. Fact. And that ordering principle is used by Christians, Jews, Secular Humanists etc etc.

    Yeah, it’s a long winded label but accurate.

    Your use of dysfunctional is a weasel word. You are fudging what you really mean as it can mean a variety of things and you need to be clear which dysfunction you are talking about that disqualifies some adults from monogamous marriage.

    Without a substantiation of your claim about dysfunctional, your claim can be dismissed out of hand.

    ?

    There are heterosexual business partners who are married to each other. You have not given a secular reason for why homosexual business partners should not have monogamous marriage extended to them.

  • Glenn April 17, 2013, 10:56 pm

    Buzz, again, our government does not operate on “secular humanism.” I can simply dismiss your claim to the contrary.

    PS – You mightn’t like the fact that “liberal democracy” is the ordinary term in contemporary political science/ philosophy, but that’s just unfortunate. Try lobbying the political science departments to adopt your “SHGLSD” if you like. ;)

    As for all of these diversions about John key not making laws for the benefit of God (!!!)… that’s fascinating Buzz, but it also has nothing at all to do with same sex marriage or anything I’ve said in this discussion thread.

    As for your further comments about “weasel words” I simply 1) don’t believe that you don’t know what dysfunctional means, and 2) again decline your invitation to the flame war you are so keen on. Civility should prevail.

    I see you apparently didn’t understand my comment about partnerships (you somehow thought I was talking about whether or not business partners could marry each other!) Ah well, not the end of the world. This now draws to a close on that note.



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