My draft submission on the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. Submissions close tomorrow, so if you haven't done yours, get it in fast. you don't need to say much - I was seriously considering leaving this at the first three paragraphs - and if you're in an even bigger hurry you can submit via the Marriage Equality campaign here:
- I support the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill and ask that it be passed.
- Decisions over who you spend your life with are deeply personal, and lie at the heart of human liberty. They are not decisions the state should interfere in. The present Marriage Act interferes in these decisions, by legally discriminating against same-sex partnerships.
- The bill would remove this discrimination, bringing the Marriage Act into consistency with the Bill of Rights Act and Human Rights Act and ensuring that New Zealanders are equal under the law in this important respect.
- Some people object to this change on religious grounds. But in New Zealand, marriage has nothing to do with religion. It has nothing to do with churches and nothing to do with priests. Many people choose to celebrate their marriage in that way, and the law accommodates them - but legally, marriage in New Zealand is secular, a matter of a civil official administering a statutory declaration.
- Likewise, marriage in New Zealand has nothing to do with families, nothing to do with children, and nothing to do with procreation. Individuals of course care deeply about such things, but our law does not, and nor should it. Arguments against this change on the basis of one of those values are therefore irrelevant.
- As a final note, the Bill of Rights Act limits discrimination to that which "can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society". This has been consistently interpreted to mean that such discrimination must serve an important public purpose, be rationally connected with that purpose, be proportionate to that purpose and by the least drastic means. The discrimination in the Marriage Act fails at the first hurdle. While religious extremists may feel differently, demonstrating some sort of social disapproval of gays would not be an "important public purpose", even if it was widely felt (which thankfully, it no longer is).
- This bill is an important chance for Parliament to demonstrate that it supports the rights of all New Zealanders. I urge that it be passed.
- I do not wish to make an oral submission to the committee.