The following is release made today by Family First.
Family First NZ has produced evidence that the Government Administration Select Committee (shown right – supporters of the bill) considering the Marriage Amendment Bill has treated unique submissions opposing the bill as form letters in a desperate attempt to ram through the bill. The Committee, which was quite obviously biased, labelled the thousands of submitters using the Protect Marriage resource as ‘form letters’ and treated them as one and the same, rather than as ‘unique’ as they should have been. This denied them the right to make oral submissions if they requested to. The supporters of the bill simply went online to a website, ticked statements that they agreed to, and then sent it through. They all said virtually the same thing. Typed, identical, same phrasing – with an occasional added comment.” “But those using the Protect Marriage forms only had the headings. They had to submit their own ideas from scratch – and they were all very different. They were raising different points, speaking from personal view and experience, explaining their professional expertise, etc. And many wanting to speak to their submission but were therefore denied the opportunity because they were treated as ‘form letters’.”
SEE THE EVIDENCE HERE
SELECT COMMITTEE MISREPRESENTATIONS
What they are claiming in the Select Committee Report:
“It is our intention that the passage of this bill should not impact negatively upon people’s religious freedoms…. The bill seeks to extend the legal right to marry to same-sex couples; it does not seek to interfere with people’s religious freedoms.”
But the advice they received from Crown Law clearly said
“Extending the ability to refuse to solemnise same-sex marriages to independent celebrants, even where to do so would be contrary to their religious beliefs, would be an unjustified limit on the right of same-sex couples to be free from discrimination.” And the Preliminary Ministry of Justice Advice said “In our view, any exemption should extend to religious bodies and approved organisations but not to independent marriage celebrants or registrars.”
The Legal Opinion of Barrister Ian Bassett says
1. Independent marriage celebrants (ie who are not celebrants within (a) above) will not lawfully be able to refuse to solemnise a same sex marriage even if solemnising that marriage would contravene their religious beliefs or conscience
2. Marriage registrars will not lawfully be able to refuse to solemnise a same sex marriage even if solemnising that marriage would contravene their religious beliefs or conscience.
And that ‘there will also be an associated practical problem if the approved religious body or organisation is split on the issue of same sex marriage or refuses to adopt an official position on the issue’. This may be significant for ministers and celebrants associated with the Methodist and Anglican denominations who are currently debating the issue.
Use of churches for same-sex weddings
What Green MP and member of Select Committee Kevin Hague claimed
“..The Select Committee has made it absolutely clear that churches won’t be required to do or say anything different, making religious freedom a non-issue.”
What the Select Committee were advised by Crown Law
“If Parliament intends that religious congregations not be required to permit their place of worship to be used for the solemnisation of same-sex marriages contrary to their religious beliefs, we recommend that this be made explicit in the legislation to put the issue beyond doubt.”
What the Select Committeeactually did
No comment and no amendment from the Select Committee
The Legal Opinion of Barrister Ian Bassett says the Select Committee, by rejecting advice from Crown Law, considers it to be appropriate that it be unlawful for churches, temples, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship to refuse to host same-sex ‘marriages’ if the building is normally made available to the public.
What the Select Committee Report tried to suggest
“Most of the numerous statutory references to “husbands” and “wives” and other gender-specific terms are therefore not affected by this bill.”
What they were told by the Ministry of Justice Final advice
“Other submitters said that gender neutral legislation, aside from giving effect to the Bill, would convey an attitude of inclusion and acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, intersex and queer (GLBTIQ) members of New Zealand society that would help to reduce discrimination. Officials are of the view that gender neutral language is necessary in some instances (and where within the scope of the Bill) to give effect to the passage of the Bill, and avoid unintended consequences.”
Fourteen Acts may require amendment (and a smaller number of regulations, not listed):
• Adoption Act 1955 (the most significant one!!)
• Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 (No 16)
• Child Support Act 1991 (No 142)
• Crimes Act 1961 (No 43)
• Family Proceedings Act 1980 (No 94)
• Joint Family Homes Act 1964 (No 45)
• Land Transfer Act 1952 (No 52)
• Maori Vested Lands Administration Act 1954 (No 60)
• Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993 Maori Land Act 1993 (No 4)
• Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987 ( No 129)
• Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (No 166)
• Social Security Act 1964 (No 136)
• Status of Children Act 1969 (No 18)
• Summary Proceedings Act 1957 (No 87)
What officials recommended
Removal of terms ‘bride’ and ‘bridegroom’ (see the new forms on the link)
What the Select Committee said
What Louisa Wall said on TVNZ’s Q&A
COLIN In giving it to everybody, you’re changing the definition. You’re changing what marriage is. Words like "husband", "wife", "bride", "bridegroom"-
LOUISA All stay. They will stay.
What the Select Committee Report said
“We considered that 2,898 submissions presented unique content. These submissions raised substantive issues, or presented common issues in a distinct manner.”
The Ministry of Justice Final advice, but not mentioned by Select Committee
“A small majority of unique submissions (55 percent) were opposed to the Bill.”
We’ll keep you informed with the results of the 2nd vote and where to from here.
Thank you for standing for marriage!