|We are sharing some of the thousands of submissions being made for marriage equality. Josh Chapman writes: “I am a taxpayer in New Zealand, yet because of my sexual orientation, I am a second-class citizen.”
If you would like to share your submission, just email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to remove names for more sensitive submissions.
Josh Chapman I am a 5th-Generation New Zealander, with my family having settled here in our beautiful country since the early 1800's. Our family has had its share of hard times and seen not only each other grow and prosper, but also our neighbours, friends and communities. Our country teaches us acceptance of others, and throughout our short history we have surpassed many milestones with the aim of achieving equality for all - and ahead of the world regardless race, gender or religious/faith-based association. In 1877, free compulsory primary school education for all children was introduced regardless of social class, in 1893 NZ Women were given the right to vote and we became the first country in the world to do so. From 1942 to 1946, during and immediately after World War II New Zealand played a significant part in developing an international human rights framework on a global scale. As a founding member of the United Nations, it helped draw up the UN Charter in 1945 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. In 1972 New Zealand ratified the UN Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and shortly followed in 1978, by ratifying the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Then into the 80’s, 1986 saw Homosexuality decriminalised, and this was because like where previous governments saw inequality and unfair treatment, the government recognised that Homosexuality is in fact; not a choice. In 1993 The New Zealand Government included sexuality in the Human Rights Act as a basis that an individual may not be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation. This was also enacted because the Government and the public know that sexuality is in fact - not a choice.
I am a taxpayer in New Zealand, yet because of my sexual orientation, I am a second-class citizen. I am a second-class citizen because the country of my birth does not allow me or my partner access to all aspects of law, and in particular I refer to my inability of access to the state institution of marriage. I had someone challenge me on this, and say “You aren’t denied access – you are still able to marry”. By that they meant I can marry a woman. For what reason would I want to marry a woman? I would say about the same reason a heterosexual person would want to marry someone of the same gender. Simply I would not, and neither would they. However, I know a large number of heterosexual individuals who support same-sex couples and equality for marriage. The reason these people exist and share these views with myself and others campaigning on this issue is because they were raised to know tolerance, acceptance and unity in celebration of other people’s differences. They understand that my wanting to marry someone of the same gender as myself will never impact them in any way. They know that because same-sex couples are able to get married overseas it has not diminished their own relationships, and it has not ruined the sanctity of marriage, and when marriage equality is allowed to pass into law, they know it will not – as it currently does not – have any impact on them. Instead, more couples will be able to celebrate their love.
Many pose that Civil Unions already gave me these rights. However, a Civil Union does not give me all the rights as any heterosexual couples. In fact, all it does is give me separate rights. A separate set of rules. The fact that a state-sanctioned marriage, state issued, and state-legalised is not available to me because of the gender of the person I love happens to be the same as my own; that is in itself a direct contravention of the Human Rights Act.
Within that Act, just before Part 1 commences it states that "This Act shall bind The Crown" - so here is where the law the Government that is empanelled to uphold, provide and protect its citizens with; currently falls short.
The HRA 1993 also in Section 20I recognises; "Non-discrimination and Minority Rights" in S.19 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. As a taxpayer, I should have all the rights that I was born to, and should not be dictated by what someone says is a "choice" when it has been proven and accepted for the last 30+ years it never was nor has ever been.
How would you feel if you had to go through a separate driver licensing system because of the colour of your skin? Perhaps your stylist won’t take you as a client because you’re a brunette? Just like your ethnicity, the country you are born in, your hair colour, or even for some of us; the TV channel your partner is watching in the lounge, sexuality is not something you can change. If you hold to the misconception that 'sexuality is a choice' I posit that the simplest way to prove this idea as incorrect, unfounded, and impossible is to ask yourself this; Why would an individual choose a life of persecution, hatred, victimisation, isolation and unhappiness if the alternative was only a choice away, just a decision that they can change?
Now these days, one should be horrified to find even one shred of this attitude or behaviour still exists. That anyone could be classed as a lesser person for just being who they are since birth is abhorrent in today’s fast-changing and diverse world. Yet it is still there. Youth Suicide is still high, especially among GLBTI individuals. The reason is because society paints a picture of Homosexuality as undesirable, that it is a choice, that gay men act effeminate, that lesbian women hate men, that transgender individuals are just gay men wanting to be “straight women”. While nothing is wrong with femininity in men, strong and independent or even masculine women etc, I will tell you on behalf of the community that these suggestions could not be further from the truth. Of our young GLBTI community, a large number of them do not associate, and cannot identify with this picture that is painted so negatively, they want to be able to just be themselves – no different from anyone else in society, you would not even be able to pinhole them by their sexuality because they are that much like you. The only difference is, not only do they want to love someone of the same sex, but they have been raised in an environment where the only people they see are undesirable, camp, on the scene. They seek a partner that is “straight-acting” because of these negative associations they have been raised with. What we need to do as a country is build tolerance for gender and sexual identity so people know that there is nothing wrong with being able to feel comfortable with who you are, and society needs to see that. This starts from the law – if the law says equality exists, not just separate minority rights, then we will be on the right track to rebuild our community.
When these things are thought and felt by GLBTI Youth, especially in these times when their hormones and emotions are high, it is no surprise that our Youth Suicide rate is so high.
While I was in High School from 1999-2004, I worked with Yellow Ribbon, the association for prevention of Youth Suicide. I was only in a very small town, yet there were a large number of guys and girls that came to me in confidence to talk about their sexuality. In my final year at High School I was not only an Ambassador, but also a leader of the youth support group. However, this was also the lead-up to the Civil Unions Bill and Relationships (Statutory References) Act in 2004.
Back then it seemed it was the only thing that was in the media, individuals such as the now self-appointed "Pope" Brian Tamaki screaming hate-speech and inciting homophobia that was reminiscent of 1984/1985 when the Homosexual Law Reform Bill 1986 was going through. I had 3 charges in my care that took their own lives within 12 months because of the self-hate that was drummed into them from every angle. From media with coverage of the law-reform, and from school with bullies taking on these "enough is enough!" mantras and projecting it onto students.
Not only that, but also the school said exactly what you are saying now "Gay relationships are not normal" and would not allow those that did feel comfortable with themselves to take their partners to the school ball.
I strongly suggest you look at the consequences of your actions, because I hope you would not wish any ill-will upon any of your fellow men and women, but in saying the things you are, you instil fear in those uneducated, and use faith as a weapon against those unlike you.
I ask you to consider that sportsman you admire, that Olympic athlete we all cheer for in her Triathlon, someone helping you with your bags to your hotel room, or serving you and your wife in the restaurant. Or perhaps even that person sitting next to you in Church; any one of them could be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Some of them are and you will never know. What you are saying is that they don't have a right to have their relationships valued, respected, or recognised as a Marriage.
People said back in 2003 that Civil Unions would destroy the institution of marriage.
Almost 10 years later, the proof says no, infidelity and divorce has been the only forces to undermine heterosexual marriage - and it happened to be the cause of heterosexual individuals, not gays. Back in 2003 it was argued that Polygamous relationships would be the next card played if it went through, or people seeking something a little more literal in the form of "Animal Husbandry".
Nothing has eventuated, and it is all only the scaremongering of the few who do not understand, or are so close-minded they don’t care that diversity, unity and the individual should be celebrated. Look back in some countries, some not even 100 years, and you can see race-rights issues, protests and debates that had attempted to hold the same argument. Back in the American Civil Rights movement, it was also argued that African Americans marrying people of White colour would destroy the fabric of society, that the institution of marriage would be ruined. That it would not be a healthy environment to raise children. If you even attempted to voice those same opinions now, you would be hauled off to jail for inciting hatred and discrimination and locked up for a long time, so if race is protected as a civil and human right in the same way, why not sexuality?
The Marriage Equality Bill put forward by Manurewa Labour MP Louisa Wall is the first real opportunity for Government and Select Committee to be able to follow in the footsteps of previous sitting MPs and deliver equality by allowing the passage of this legislation. The subject of Marriage Equality warrants discussion because it is long overdue however; it is not a matter for the Church to be in any way involved with state law, We are a secular society full of people from all walks of life. Why should an atheist have to live in their community with laws unable to progress because of religion? This is why in Louisa Wall’s bill there is a provision that a church can decline to ordain a same-sex marriage. Churches saying “We will be forced into it, if it becomes law” – should really consider that statement. Would a gay couple really want to have their vows solemnised by a minister who did not want to. I know I would not; I want my wedding day to be happy for all of those involved, not have some sour-faced minister in the background of the photos, within the record of what is supposed to be one of the happiest days of my life.
I will leave you with a short quote from the late Gore Vidal;
"We must declare ourselves, become known; allow the world to discover this subterranean life of ours which connects kings and farm boys, artists and clerks. Let them see that the important thing is not the object of love, but the emotion itself."
Thank you. Josh Chapman - 19th December 2012