Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister):
NZ Herald June 21 2004 “Should people who want to have legal recognition of a marriage be able to get it? The Government says yes, but you can’t marry. Marriage is only for heterosexuals. The Government is not — underline — not, changing the Marriage Act. That will remain as an option only for heterosexual couples.”


TIM BARNETT (Labour – now Secretary General of Labour):
1st Reading “The Civil Union Bill is an acceptable alternative; marriage can remain untouched.”

Hon CHRIS CARTER (Labour):
1st Reading “I accept that marriage has a traditional and religious heritage, which is why our churches are so protective of it ….Having said that, I utterly reject the idea that the State cannot create an alternative way of recognising couples—be they straight or gay—…”

1st Reading “Marriage as understood in our society, and as formalised in law, is a specific culturally and historically bound institution. …This bill does not affect the Marriage Act. It does not change in any way the structure, the validity, of the institution of marriage.”

1st Reading The Marriage Act applies only to heterosexual couples. The opponents of the Civil Union Bill feel strongly that that should remain so. The Government respects that view, which is why there is no proposal to change that Act.

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE (Labour, Associate Minister of Justice):
1st Reading “Through the Civil Union Bill, the Government …is also confirming that in New Zealand marriage remains solely available to a man and a woman. Marriage will continue to be covered by a separate Act and recognised as a separate institution. …The social, religious, and traditional values associated with marriage will remain
3rd Reading “Marriage remains something available solely to a man and a woman. Civil unions offer an alternative to those unable to marry, or who do not wish to marry.”

Hon JOHN KEY (National)
2006 “Marriage is an institution of the church, I don’t think it is necessary to have that label put on every relationship.”
2008 “I don’t think there’s a real need to change the current legislation or to adopt new legislation.”

1st Reading Civil Unions Bill Marriage exists essentially for the protection of children, and, as I said at the start, this country is increasingly putting unacceptable pressures on children. Any measure that cheapens the environment that is best for children to grow up in shows very, very poor leadership. I will not be voting for this bill.”

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National):
3rd Reading Civil Unions Bill “There is a simple, historical quid pro quo: that this Parliament provide, in the law of the land, special recognition of marriage, because marriage between a man and a woman is the beginning of the next generation of a family and of the future of our country.”

Marriage (Gender Clarification) Amendment Bill 2005 “I believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, and I could not support any attempt to amend the Marriage Act to accommodate marriages between persons of the same sex. … (W)e have all received correspondence in recent days from people who genuinely believe that same-sex marriage is just around the corner. … Same-sex marriage is not around the corner.”


Princeton Professor Robert P George

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.


Tony Milne helped co-ordinate the campaign for Civil Unions when working for Tim Barnett MP.

I’m one of those who prefers Civil Unions over marriage. It is modern and inclusive from its very beginning. Compared to most countries, where Civil Unions have been designed as a separate institution for same-sex couples, New Zealand chartered a different course. We created a relationship recognition that was open to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples, changed the prescribed “I take you” language to be more flexible and less possessive – and removed virtually all discrimination in New Zealand law between de facto and married/civil unionised couples!… To describe Civil Unions as a second-class institution is hurtful for some of us who are in a Civil Union. It’s just not necessary either.


Prominent Irish homosexual and political commentator Richard Waghorn

Marriage is vital as a framework within which children can be brought up by a man and woman. Not all marriages, of course, involve child-raising. And there are also, for that matter, same-sex couples already raising children. But the reality is that marriages tend towards child-raising and same-sex partnerships do not.
I am conscious of this when considering my own circle of friends, quite a few of whom have recently married or will soon do so in the future. Many, if not most or all of them, will raise children. If, however, I or gay friends form civil partnerships, those are much more unlikely to involve raising children. So the question that matters is this: Why should a gay relationship be treated the same way as a marriage, despite this fundamental difference?
A wealth of research demonstrates the marriage of a man and a woman provides children with the best life outcomes, that children raised in marriages that stay together do best across a whole range of measures. This is certainly not to cast aspersions on other families, but it does underscore the importance of marriage as an institution.
This is why the demand for gay marriage goes doubly wrong. It is not a demand for marriage to be extended to gay people – it is a demand for marriage to be redefined. The understanding of marriage as an institution that exists and is supported for the sake of strong families changes to an understanding of marriage as merely the end-point of romance. If gay couples are considered equally eligible for marriage, even though gay relationships do not tend towards child-raising and cannot by definition give a child a mother and a father, the crucial understanding of what marriage is actually mainly for has been discarded.
What that amounts to is the kind of marriage that puts adults before children. That, in my opinion, is ultimately selfish, and far too high a price to pay simply for the token gesture of treating opposite-sex relationships and same-sex relationships identically. And it is a token gesture. Isn’t it common sense, after all, to treat different situations differently? To put it personally, I do not feel in the least bit discriminated against by the fact that I cannot marry someone of the same-sex. I understand and accept that there are good reasons for this.


Australian Gay Activist Professor Dennis Altman published in the Australian Literary Review 2/2/11

Feminists have long criticised marriage as the institutional basis for male supremacy and restrictive notions of monogamy, and sexual radicals have long denounced marriage as a declining and oppressive institution. The notion of marriage implies a long term commitment to both sexual and emotional commitment. Yet the two are not necessarily synonymous, and most gay men, at least, accept a whole range of sexual adventuring as co-existing with long term partnerships. There seems something hypocritical in the rush to embrace marriage vows, which were designed to restrain any idea that commitment was to be measured entirely by sexual fidelity.
Moreover the constant stress on marriage as the ultimate test of gay equality risks making invisible those homosexuals who either do not want, or cannot find, a long term relationship. There is an extensive feminist literature on the ways in which women are restricted by the emphasis on seeking a husband to the exclusion of all else. It would be ironic if the lesbian and gay movement forgot these warnings, and reified marriage as the only acceptable way of living one‟s life. Yet as Gore Vidal once said, the only people left who believe in marriage are homosexuals, and who am I to deny them that pleasure?


Amy Lowell, “Do lesbians need marriage?,” MCV, 4 June 2004, p. 6.
An Australian lesbian said this about the Prime Minister’s attempts to keep marriage as the union of a man and a woman for life:

“When it comes to same-sex marriages, John Howard has got us pretty well summed up. We’re not cut out for it. . . . [Heterosexuals are] welcome to it. ‘For life’! It’d be like sitting through one of those interminable bloody Indian films but when you get to the end it starts all over again and you can’t leave. Let’s leave marriage and other drudgery to heterosexuals. They’ve had millenniums of practice. They’re good at child-rearing and taking out the rubbish. I never wanted to be like them, even when I was one of them. . . . Surely we can come up with something better: semi-marriage or quarter-marriage, which would narrow the field down to eight. Or a casual, part-time or temporary marriage. Or even a flexitime marriage.”

Mitchel Raphael, editor in chief of Fab, a popular gay magazine in Toronto
After gay marriage in Canada 2003

”Ambiguity is a good word for the feeling among gays about marriage,” said Mitchel Raphael, editor in chief of Fab, a popular gay magazine in Toronto. ”I’d be for marriage if I thought gay people would challenge and change the institution and not buy into the traditional meaning of ’till death do us part’ and monogamy forever.


Jim Rinnert is the art director at In These Times – monthly magazine of news and opinion published by the Institute for Public Affairs in Chicago.

Gay marriage strikes me as, first and foremost, just another way to show the straights that we’re the same as them, that we’re as “normal” as the heterosexuals with whom we share the planet and thereby are worthy of acceptance into their clubs. Well, without getting into a discourse on the social function of homosexuality in cultures ancient and modern, let me just assert that, guess what—we’re not the same. We’re different. Rather than try to paint heterosexual stripes on our pelts, let’s examine, explore and celebrate our different coloration.


Andrew Sullivan “Virtually Normal: An Argument about Homosexuality”
Andrew Sullivan, writes that if homosexual marriage contracts come into force, they would have to be “different”: that is, they would have to allow for “extra-marital outlets” and other major changes.

“I believe strongly that marriage should be made available to everyone, in a politics of strict public neutrality. But within this model, there is plenty of scope for cultural difference. There is something baleful about the attempt of some gay conservatives to educate homosexuals and lesbians into an uncritical acceptance of a stifling model of heterosexual normality. The truth is, homosexuals are not entirely normal; and to flatten their varied and complicated lives into a single, moralistic model is to miss what is essential and exhilarating about their otherness.”

photo of Peter TatchellAustralian-born British-based activist Peter Tatchell

We get equality, but at a price. The cost to our community is the surrender of our unique, distinctive queer identity. The unwritten social contract at the heart of law reform is that lesbians and gays will behave respectably and comply with the heterosexual moral agenda. No more cruising, orgies or sadomasochism!


 Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon

“I gave a speech recently, an empowerment speech to a gay audience, and it included the line ‘I’ve been straight and I’ve been gay, and gay is better.’ And they tried to get me to change it, because they said it implies that homosexuality can be a choice. And for me, it is a choice. I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me. A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it’s a choice, then we could opt out. I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not.” Her face was red and her arms were waving. “As you can tell,” she said, “I am very annoyed about this issue. Why can’t it be a choice? Why is that any less legitimate?


Sneaky Sound System’s Connie Mitchell
has revealed she is bisexual and supports the legalisation of gay marriage. Speaking before her performance at last night’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras party, the colourful singer told us she’s open to falling in love with a woman.

“I’m quite a big fan of a little bit of both (men and women) you know,” she says with a smile. She’s also a supporter of gay marriage: “If you want to get married, you should be able to get married to whoever you want -and that includes marrying a goat if you feel like it.”