Births, deaths and marriages up for debate

Sunday Star Times 28 April 2013
Gay adoption and euthanasia are among the final social frontiers for our parliament to cross. They’re both on the political agenda and politicians are ready and bracing for the onslaught. Now that same-sex marriage is out of the way – as far as Parliament is concerned – those from both sides of that debate are keen to take a well-deserved rest but with bills on gay adoption and euthanasia waiting to be drawn from the member’s ballot it could be a short-lived break from heated debate. Conservative lobbyists and church groups, so vocal in opposition to same-sex marriage, say they’re ready to take up the placards again, but they are miffed that it’s all been left to them.

Baptist national leader Craig Vernall said middle New Zealand had been “gutless” in its approach to the Marriage Act. “We’re left to represent the majority views in many respects because people are intimidated . . . people just hide, they go underground, they don’t want to be labelled homophobic. It seems if you’re opposed to gay marriage you’re just branded and labelled homophobic, should be shot, that’s the view the media paints.” The men honoured on Anzac Day would be deeply disappointed they had laid down their lives for democracy and the result was decriminalisation of prostitution, legalised gambling, lowering of the drinking age and gay marriage, he says.

Catholic Archbishop John Dew says his church is no stranger to the parliamentary process and was aware of the bills waiting to be drawn. “Catholic social teaching and values founded on promotion of the common good, the dignity of persons, concern for the vulnerable and the family unit are what motivates us to participate in these discussions. We also take seriously our role in society, alongside other faith groups, in proposing support for, or challenging regulation or legislation on, a wide range of issues.”

Family First director Bob McCroskie was more staunch. He says the legalisation of gay marriage confirmed National had swung to the left and was no longer a conservative party. Labour was voted out in 2008 for social engineering policies, including legalised prostitution, civil unions, and anti-smacking, but politicians still believed they could introduce such legislation. Family First’s membership quadrupled from 8000 to 32,000 as a result of the marriage debate and they were ready to mobilise their supporters against gay adoption and euthanasia. “People don’t understand the process and don’t think it’s worth getting involved and we see our role is to get rid of that misconception.” McCroskie has websites against both issues ready to go live if the bills are drawn.

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