My submission on the marriage equality bill
It passed it’s first reading 80 to 40, and as a result has been passed on to the Government Administration Select Committee (yeah, who knew there was one!) public submissions were invited, which closed yesterday.
My submission is below.
I believe we should live in a society were all law abiding citizens are all treated equally under the law. It is the (rightful) role of Government to set laws in such as way as this principle is upheld.
Marriage of two people, who choose to commit to one another, should have no barriers based on sexual orientation. This is both fair, and right. Equally as important, as already stated above, it is the role of the Government to ensure this happens.
Human rights, such as the right to marry the person one chooses, regardless of gender or sexuality, should not come down to popular vote, even though the majority of New Zealanders support this. It comes down to doing the right thing.
Religious beliefs should have no bearing on a person’s support for this bill. I support people holding beliefs that differ to mine, and moreover would fight for their right to hold such views and express them. However, I do not expect them to follow my moral code, nor do I expect to be forced to follow theirs. I do however expect everyone to have the same freedoms and obligations as a citizen.
If some individuals find it offensive that two men or two women wish to marry, that is not a valid reason to stop this bill. There will always be persons that hold views that are discriminatory, divisive, or wish to provide one part of society with less rights than others. But regardless of why a person holds such views, they should not be allowed to override the principles of justice, where we are all treated equally.
We also need to consider the message sends to the future generations of New Zealanders, and in particular what message the current law sends to a young LGBT person. Already New Zealand has atrocious youth suicide rates, and being LGBT is a significant determinant factor. Research is clear that direct discrimination is one of the leading factors influencing a person’s decision to end their own life – one only needs to look at all the various groups that have high suicide rates to know how significant this is. As such, MPs have a unique opportunity to end one of the last pieces of legislation in New Zealand that is discriminatory of LGBT persons, and in doing so, not only provide equality for LGBT couples, but also send a clear signal to LGBT youth that New Zealand lawmakers do not support discrimination in any way. MPs have an obligation to protect citizens. Passing this legislation will do this.
In summary, I urge all MPs to make the right choice to end discrimination; make the choice to allow people who love each other full rights ability to choose under the law; and make the decision to send a signal to New Zealanders, and indeed the world, that New Zealand is a tolerant and open society that treats all its citizens equally.
I intend to personally present to the select committee considering the bill, and will be making the same statements to them, just more firmly. The more I think about this, the more I am of the view that MPs have an obligation to pass this bill, for all the reasons outlined above, but mostly because it is the right thing to do in ending legislative discrimination in New Zealand.
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