Sunday Star Times 27 Jan 2013
A teenager opposed to gay marriage has accused select committee members of behaving in a hostile and “menacing” way to submitters who are against a proposed law change for same-sex couples.
Leader of conservative lobby group Family First Bob McCoskrie says the girl was treated apallingly by MPs when she told them during her oral submission that to allow homosexuals to marry would undermine the sanctity of marriage, with one calling her “homophobic” and another getting up for refreshments in the middle of her speech.
In a press release sent to the Sunday Star-Times, McCoskrie said 18-year-old Grace Carroll was left humiliated, disappointed and frustrated by the experience – and she’s not the only person to have complained.
However, the committee members say all submitters were treated with respect – even if they did roll their eyes at the girl when she began to quote civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr – and that McCoskrie was simply agitating because public support has swung away from him.
“I think McCroskrie is mischief-making,” said Green MP Kevin Hague. “His motivation is to do whatever he can to try and stop the bill. So I don’t think anyone will be surprised that he is now attempting to undermine [the] select committee process.”
Hague, who is gay, said he felt all submitters – especially individuals – had been treated with respect. He said he would be concerned if an 18-year-old felt bullied, but he didn’t think that was the case. However, he admitted he did express exasperation when she began talking about “virtue”. “That makes my hackles rise . . . I find it offensive,” he said.
“Even more outrageous is her quoting Martin Luther King at the end. I am certain that my feelings would have been obvious at the time: co-opting words from the leader of the American civil rights movement, whose widow has been a vocal advocate of marriage equality, to deny civil rights to others is going to stir strong reactions.” He said he never used the word homophobic.