The following letter has been posted (NZ Post mail) to all NZ MP’s
Parliament will debate the third reading of the Marriage [Definition of Marriage] Amendment bill on Wednesday 17 April to include same sex couples. Should Parliament pass this controversial and socially destructive bill it will threaten religious freedom in New Zealand.
Labour MP, Louisa Wall told Parliament when she introduced her bill “What my Bill does not do is require any person or Church to carry out a marriage if it does not fit with the beliefs of the celebrant or the religious interpretation a church has.” The bill that was passed by the select committee provides no such protection for the conscience. Parliament passed the bill at its second reading with no such protection. They have confirmed that the same-sex marriage bill will not protect the consciences of those administering places of faith. They will be legally obliged to host ‘same-sex weddings’ if their facilities are available to the general public. There is no legal protection for the consciences of marriage registrars and marriage celebrants who are not part of approved mainline churches or approved organizations, they will be unable to refuse a request to marry a same-sex couple by reason of the same-sex of the couple.
This Bill will provide a culture of coercion whereby celebrants or registrars that don’t fall within the exemptions will not be lawfully able to refuse to perform a same-sex marriage by reason of the same-sex of the couple. This proposed Select Committee amendment undercuts Louisa Wall’s assurances to Parliament and provides a much narrower exemption than that provided by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act which states that everybody has the right of freedom of religion and belief, and the right to manifest that belief or view.
SUMMARY of Legal Opinion
Q1: Will marriage celebrants, marriage registrars and ministers of religion (who are also marriage celebrants) be forced to solemnise same-sex ‘marriages’ even if to do so would be contrary to the religious beliefs of the marriage celebrants, marriage registrars and ministers of religion?
PROTECTED (a) A marriage celebrant (who is a minister of religion recognised by a religious body enumerated in Schedule 1) or a celebrant (who is a person nominated to solemnise marriages by an approved organisation) will be able lawfully to refuse to solemnise a marriage if solemnizing that marriage would contravene the religious beliefs of the religious body or the religious beliefs or philosophical or humanitarian convictions of the approved organisation.
NOT PROTECTED (b) A marriage celebrant (who is a minister of religion recognised by a religious body enumerated in Schedule 1) or a celebrant (who is a person nominated to solemnise marriages by an approved organisation) will not be able lawfully to refuse to solemnise a marriage if the religious body or the approved organisation endorsed same sex marriage.
UNCLEAR(c) It is unclear what will be the position of a marriage celebrant (who is a minister of religion recognised by a religious body enumerated in Schedule 1) or a celebrant (who is a person nominated to solemnise marriages by an approved organisation), where 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.
(d) (i) 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.
(ii) 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.
Q2: Will temples, mosques, synagogues, churches and other places of worship be required to be used to solemnise same-sex ‘marriages’?
(e) Church ministers, marriage celebrants, church elders (or persons or entity) supplying their churches (or temples or mosques or synagogues) to the public will be in breach of the Human Rights Act 1993 and acting unlawfully, if they refuse to supply their churches to a couple seeking to be married, by reason of the same sex of the couple..
Same Sex Marriage: The impact on schools
We are concerned at the following consequences.
· Compulsory teaching of same sex marriage.
· Dismissal of teachers with a conscientious objection to teaching about same sex marriage,
· No opt out for private and faith based schools.
· Further promotion of homosexual activity in schools.
· Parents undermined.
Our conscience is of fundamental importance, every citizen has the right to freedom of religion and the right to manifest that belief. It should be a matter of grave concern for Members of Parliament that the proposed legislation will trample over the conscience of Church ministers, marriage celebrants and others.
The institution of marriage was defined by our Creator as being exclusively for one man and one woman. Right to Life requests that you uphold the common good, protect the conscience rights of citizens and protect religious freedom by voting to defeat the Marriage Amendment Bill of Louisa Wall at its third reading.