Article Title:Marriage Equality: Irrelevant Objection?
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:14th December 2012 - 11:54 am
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Story ID:12685
Text:They won't get married in a fundamentalist church. So what? The Christian Right wants a clause within the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill to accommodate conservative religious groups 'right to refuse' to preside over same-sex weddings. All right, then. After all, it was always Louisa Wall's intention that conservative people of faith should be accommodated, insofar as their freedom of belief, conscience and doctrine are concerned. No ordained minister or conservative religious congregations will be forced into presiding over any hypothetical conservative religious same-sex wedding ceremonies. It was never going to happen, anyway. However, the fundamentalist community has a vastly exaggerated perception of its public appeal to others. If they need it spelt out within a specific accommodation and opt-out clause specifically related to same-sex religious wedding ceremonies, then so be it. We lose nothing tangible- and, more importantly, we call their bluff. However, this accommodation clause would be limited specifically only to performance of hypothetical conservative religious same-sex weddings. Family First, the New Zealand Catholic Bishops and other conservative Christians and other people of faith need to be firmly told that fundamentalists employed in secular occupations like wedding photographer, public registry work, or the hospitality industry, will not receive any such special treatment or discriminatory 'rights' relative to the rest of mainstream New Zealand when it comes to service provision or accommodation. All of the above are illegal under the Human Rights Act 1993 and will remain so, even if the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill fails. Once these accommodations and opt-out clauses are reached, though, the Christian Right won't abandon its opposition to marriage equality. This is because Family First, the New Zealand Catholic Bishops, Right to Life New Zealand do not respect religious and philosophical pluralism and meaningful freedom, or faith/state separation in this context. Instead, they want to impose a sectarian antigay religious philosophy known as 'natural law' theory in this context, on secular and religious New Zealanders alike who do not share its premodern, prescientific twelfth-century worldview. (If one needed any proof of such a stance, they should read Right to Life New Zealand's submission against the Marriage Equality Bill, which is a long, interminable and unreferenced tirade against lesbian and gay sexual identity from its conservative Catholic perspective, using clichés such as 'gender complementarity,' 'objective moral disorder' and refusing to even engage with mainstream pediatrics and developmental psychology when it comes to same-sex parenting. Proof that we are dealing with a set of sectarian religious assertions based only on this prescientific framework, inimical to meaningful religious freedom and pluralism and faith/state separation, one of the core premises of New Zealand's democratic institutions). Moreover, Family First needs to admit that it will not stop over this issue even if it somehow manages to defeat the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill. Given that it has already indicated that it approved of Gordon Copeland's abortive bid to mangle the Bill of Rights and amend the Marriage Act 1955 to specify heterosexuals only, back in 2005, they will probably then try to emulate Australia and the United States and have an explicit discriminatory marriage equality ban written into New Zealand law. They need to be honest and acknowledge that this is their ultimate objective. The Marriage Equality Amendment Bill is about secular, civil marriage primarily, not about religious wedding ceremonies or marriages. Liberal people of faith might well want to hold their own religious same-sex weddings and recognise the equality of LGBT and straight couples as a consequence of their particular belief, conscience and doctrine, however, because freedom of belief, conscience and doctrine should not be restricted to religious social conservatives alone. Craig Young - 14th December 2012    
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