Nevertheless we are a democracy and it is appropriate to make a few notes while we have freedom to speak about such tidal matters:
(1) I observe that at least one gay MP actually voted against the bill. I wonder why? Whatever the answer, it would be good to tone down thoughts that opposition to the bill is homophobic and bigoted. It wouldn't be fair to that particular MP!
(2) Somewhat plaintively might I appeal for accurate speech when we speak about such matters? Two instances in the past twenty-four hours of inaccurate speaking are these:
(a) Into our Inboxes yesterday popped our weekly diocesan e-news. This included a promotion for Glynn Cardy and St Matthew's-in-the-City billboard in favour of the bill with the following mentioned:
"St Matthew’s looks forward to a time when the barrier of sexual orientation will be removed from the requirement for a church wedding. “Such prejudice”, says Vicar Glynn Cardy, “is contrary to the good news of Jesus Christ.” "
Accurate speech here would be this: "In my opinion as one individual in the church, and without any official support from any statement of any resolution of General Synod, actually, without even a declaration from the bishops of my church, let alone a 'mind of God' statement from my bishop, I - Glynn Cardy - declare, simply on my own authority, such prejudice is contrary to the good news of Jesus Christ, even though there is not one statement in the gospels of Jesus Christ which suggests or implies that he would have conceived that marriage was possible for two men or two women." [See Addendum below].
(b) Louisa Wall herself, as cited in the article linked to above, spoke thus:
"‘‘Today is the time to open the institution of marriage to all people who are eligible,’’ Ms Wall told Parliament last night.
‘‘There is no reasonable ground on which the state should deny any citizen the right to enter the institution of marriage if he or she chooses. That is not the process of inclusion.’’
But she said it was ‘‘not the state’s role to sanction heterosexuality or homosexuality.’’‘‘Nor is it the State’s role to judge the marriages of its citizens.’’"
I find this incredibly sad as an example of reasonable argument within our parliament.
It is logical nonsense to speak of opening the institution of marriage to all people who are 'eligible'. Parliament determines who are eligible for marriage (e.g. the minimum age at which one can marry, the degrees of consanguinity within which one may not marry). No one is 'eligible' to marry without parliament's legislation! Accurate speech here would be 'Today is the time to change the legislation regarding marriage and to broaden the criteria by which we deem people to be eligible to marry, but not so broad that we allow 'all people' to marry, because today we are not going to change the age of eligibility nor the degrees of consanguinity nor the requirement that marriage is monogamous.'
The nonsense continues in the next sentence! There are reasonable grounds on which the state should deny any citizen the right to enter the institution of marriage if he or she wished to make such choice! The state should deny children the right to marry, it should deny brothers the right to marry sisters, and it should deny more than two people the right to marry each other. As I understand parliament's action last night, it was not changing its mind that it is unreasonable to permit children, brothers/sisters, and more than two people the right to marry.
Well, I hardly need go on to the final statements in the citation above. Determining who is and who is not eligible to marry has nothing to do with sanctioning heterosexuality or homosexuality. It is the role of the state to judge it's citizens marriages. Indeed, get married in the wrong way overseas to a non-citizen of NZ and you will find the state is precisely and often immovably judgemental about such marriages should you wish to bring your non-citizen spouse back to these islands. Marry more than one person, or, as we had recent experience here in Canterbury, take a wedding illegally, and you will find the state has quite a bit to say about its citizens marriages!
Just in case readers here think nothing worth saying in favour of the bill can be said and said accurately, I suggest this is accurate speaking:
"National’s Nikki Kaye said the bill would give ‘‘dignity and acceptance’’ to a group in society who had only recently been criminalised for the people they loved."
It is entirely proper for parliament to have a say in the ways laws frame notions of dignity and acceptance of various groups in society. Whether changing the law about marriage is a necessary condition for enhancing dignity and acceptance of gays and lesbians is at the heart of the debate. Whether parliament should stop offering dignity and acceptance via amendments to the marriage law by not going on to provide for those who wish to marry their sisters or marry more than one person is also at the heart of the debate.
What is not at the heart of the debate is opening the institution of marriage to 'all people' who are eligible etc: that is logical nonsense in the argument from the bill's own promoter which ill-befits our parliament as the highest and most powerful determiner of what is reasonable.
ADDENDUM: Re the St Matt's billboard. At last the Auckland bishops have spoken out against their outspoken cleric/church! As reported at Taonga,
"The Anglican Bishops in Auckland believe a St Matthew-in-the-City billboard about gay marriage leaves a confusing message and does not effectively communicate what good relationships are about.
The billboard shows two bride dolls kissing on top of a wedding cake. The caption reads: "We don't care who's on top."
The Auckland Bishops say the Anglican Church cares about good relationships and so does care about ‘who is on top’ in a relationship.
Bishop Jim White says that oddly the billboard does not convey clearly what St Matthew’s claims are the key foundations of a relationship – mutuality, fidelity and love.
"The billboard is a confusing message trading on clichés that I don’t think St Matthew's actually stands for," he says.
Bishop Ross Bay is disappointed by the billboard but says he is not surprised because St Matthew’s stance on gay marriage is well known.
He says it adds nothing new to a good understanding of the issue. "This is a time for listening to one another and for careful conversations about a sensitive issue. Those conversations are getting under way in Parliament and wider society and in the church."
The Bishops say the billboard opinion is that of the St Matthew’s congregation and does not represent the Auckland Diocese or the wider Anglican Church.The Bishops are encouraging the church and the wider community to have respectful conversations that lead to a greater understanding of the issue currently before Parliament."