Times are a changing: about time

For those who don't know, New Zealand's Parliament has just voted on a bill called the Marriage Equality Bill (MEB). What the bill essentially proposes is that same-sex couples can be afforded the same marital rights as heterosexual couples. The vote was pretty convincing with 80 ayes and 40 nayes. This doesn't mean the bill has passed into law but it does mean the process has begun. The bill first needs to go to select committee and voted on twice more. However, it seems very likely that the bill will pass and become an Act (i.e. the law). This will be a momentous occasion and should be celebrated by all New Zealanders.

Sadly there are a minority who think that their outdated and bigoted views should determine the rights of other humans. This minority typically consists of religious conservatives (are you surprised?). The prominent organised groups that I have encountered are The Conservative Party of New Zealand and Protect Marriage NZ. Their arguments against the bill surround the definition of marriage, or at least what they think the definition should be. They claim that marriage is only between a man and woman, an argument that is religiously charged. I see no problem redefining marriage in the legal sense if it means equal rights for fellow humans. In a less clinical sense marriage is an open commitment and expression of love for another person. That is how I view my marriage and that is how I view any other marriage. Another common strategy employed is the allusion to a 'slippery slope': if gays can marry what next? Legalising incest and bestiality? It is remarkable that somehow homosexuality is equated with incest and bestiality.

Colin Craig is also one of those bigots that thinks homosexuality is a choice and it is not normal or is unnatural. Of course anyone without a preconceived agenda knows that is bullshit and it is hardly worth getting into. I have written about the spectrum of sexuality in the past which demonstrates that 'normal' is an obtuse word with regard to sexuality. The 'unnatural' argument is a nonstarter. There is truckloads of evidence that homo- or bisexual behavior occurs in over 1000 animal species. Specifically, bonobos (our closest living relatives along with chimpanzees) are apparently fully bisexual suggesting that homo- and bisexuality is anything but unnatural.

Recently, Colin Craig (leader of The Conservative Party of NZ) has been calling for a referendum on the issue. He wants to put the fundamental rights of a minority in the hands of the majority, a strategy that is morally objectionable. Nonetheless, the issue is contentious and people have their opinions. Guess what the opinion was? Two to one 2:1 in favour of the bill according to polls. Interestingly the bill passed its first vote in Parliament two to one, exactly in line with the opinion polls. Seems pretty democratic and consistent with what the people of NZ want. Despite this Colin Craig thinks that it is undemocratic to exclude the public from deciding the issue and that MPs should not be the deciders on the bill. Craig then goes on to say that MPs voted against the desires of their constituents but provides not evidence for his claim. It would have taken a huge number of MPs to vote contrary to their constituents desires making his claim exceptionally unlikely, particularly when we look at the synergy between opinion polls and MPs' votes.

In regard to this whole thing I have had a 'personal experience' with Colin Craig. I, and many others, were directed through social media to his facebook page where he shared his press release of the above situation. Several people commented pointing out the flaws in his logic (i.e. democracy had not failed but succeeded). He proceeded to delete the comments that went against his views. I decided to comment too: he gave me the same treatment and barred me from future comments. In the end Craig got so many comments that were wrong and undemocratic (i.e. not in line with his views) he deleted the whole post. He is an astoundingly silly man who couldn't see the irony in what he was doing. Fortunately I took some screen shots of my comments before and after (see below and see here for a much larger set of before and after deletion).  Subsequently I went to the Conservative Party's facebook page and made some comments for which I got the same treatment. They haven't taken that post down so why not head over and have your say too. I also got accused of trolling despite my comments being civil and directly relevant to the post and comments from others. I wonder what Jesus would have done?

Before deletion

After deletion

Ultimately I have learned a couple of things: (1) Colin Craig and his associates are bigoted hypocrites and (2) New Zealand's gay couples will have the same rights as their fellow humans. Boo for the former and hurray for the latter. 


Anonymous said...

The institution of marriage is now the subject of a bitter national debate. How did marriage begin—and why?

I reckon we debated this more than 4500 years ago and got it right.

Open debate is healthy, but it should never be biased towards neither subject or audience. When man chooses his own earthly wisdom he always gets it wrong. Thats been proven time and time again

I'm not sure cuz, think you need to do some more homework....but then I'm not running for a seat :)

Jarrod said...

The origin of marriage in irrelevant. Likewise for your point "we debated this more than 4500 years ago". What is relevant is what it means to us today. There are many things that were done 4500 years ago (and more recently for that matter) that are longer acceptable. Several issues come to mind: slavery, interracial marriage and female vote etc. There is no bias in letting all humans have the same rights. The bias position is the one taken by Colin Craig and co who want to impose their set of religious values on others. You have said nothing of substance and have been rather vague. What is your point?

Anonymous said...

My point is that your stance of "if animals do it, it must be ok" makes a mockery of your argument. An open expression of love and commitment to another person? It's far more than that, but over the last 100 years marriage has become so diluted with man-made laws that its become difficult for so many to take it seriously. Go ahead, thin it out some more.

The reason for my being vague is that I stand firm in my Faith. You're captive to an Age where the loosely thrown around term "rights", negate wisdom...a wisdom that has been passed down through numerous generations.

You're probaly ignoring that tugging feeling you refer to as "instinct"...I choose not to ignore it. I didn't post this to debate religion or force some doctrine down your throat but rather tell you that a child, every child, needs to grow up in a society that teaches them to put a value on morals. Taking that away from them is like taking away their freedom.

Too many debates are structured on what people think an audience wants to hear. You want to be a slave to that, thats your prerogative.

I follow a Book that sings to my soul...

Paul McBride said...

The argument, "Anonymous", is that homosexuality is a natural biological phenomenon, and should not be considered a choice (e.g. the ridiculous rugby analogy that has been doing the rounds).

We absolutely do live in a society that values morality. You shouldn't confuse people disagreeing with you with a lack of morality. A majority of New Zealanders support same-sex marriage, and you are simply in the vocal minority who do not.

You claim: "You're probaly ignoring that tugging feeling you refer to as "instinct" [...] Too many debates are structured on what people think an audience wants to hear. You want to be a slave to that, thats your prerogative."

Wow. This is quite the accusation. No wonder you write anonymously. Your words betray a mindblowing level of ignorance of the other side of this debate. As such, you really should be ashamed to put your name to such words.

If you were going to be open-minded about this, you would consider the possibility that people genuinely do care about human rights for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. You don't get to impose a religious point of view on our secular society.

In any case, despite what you appear to believe, marriage has many separate origins in many cultures and is not something owned by any particular group or viewpoint. Therefore it is not yours to define.

Jarrod said...

Anonymous, the way that your faith influences your stance on this issue was exactly what part of my post was about. You suggestion that I am only writing about what I "think an audience wants to hear" and that I am a slave is ironic. You are so much more of a slave than I. I am free to express how I feel based on logic without fear of punishment from some benevolent god.

Paul has already addressed your point about animal sexual behaviour, but just to reiterate: homosexual behaviour in animals demonstrates that it is not unnatural. It also alludes to 'gayness' not being a choice. If you want to believe it is immoral that is your choice but don't try and impose your beliefs on others. There is no logical argument that can define homosexuality as immoral, only 'arguments' from your religion.

You say that marriage is so much more than "open expression of love and commitment to another person" but you don't say how so. I can only imagine you are referring to the way your chosen religion portrays marriage. As Paul points out "marriage has many separate origins in many cultures and is not something owned by any particular group or viewpoint." We live in a multicultural secular country, thus the laws should reflect that and ensure the protection of our citizen's rights. Your religiously charged bigotry has no place in deciding our laws.

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