Title: Marriage Equality: Bob and the Swingers! Credit: Craig Young Comment Monday 11th February 2013 - 11:38am1360535880 Article: 12898 Rights
What? Surely self-appointed "moral guardian" Family First isn't into (gasp) swinging!!! But yes, apparently he is if it's the marriage equality debate, as he wants some MPs to go both ways!!! To be more precise, Bob McCoskrie has released a new six page brochure entitled "21 Great Reasons to Keep Marriage As It Is". Getting the preliminary comments out of the way, he utters the usual tired cliches about marriage equality. Marriage equality is against (conservative Catholic sectarian) "natural law" theory (so what about faith/state seperation and meaningful religious freedom?). And if opponents of marriage equality are not motivated by homophobic malice and mendacious antigay propaganda, then could he kindly explain the extremist rhetoric of fundamentalists Ian Wishart and John Stringer? Louisa Wall has repeatedly stated that the Marriage Equality Bill is not about incest or polygamy, and there are no such Crimes Act amendments sanctioned within this bill. Nor have virtually any jurisdictions legislated for polygamy or 'consensual adult' incest in the wake of marriage equality for LGBT couples. Nor is there any concrete movement for the legislative or judicial recognition of polyamorous spousal relationships as yet, even in jurisdictions that have recognised monogamous same-sex marriage equality. And I'd be very careful about using the 'special rights' argument in this context. Actually, it is the Christian Right that is intent on making 'special rights' arguments in this context. Family First has repeatedly cited overseas cases where fundamentalist individuals within secular occupations and organisations contracted public service provision under central government have been subject to disciplinary action or dismissal due to breaking antidiscrimination laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of service provision when it comes to sexual orientation, marital status or family status. Does Family First actually want to give fundamentalists their own "special rights" to discriminate against lesbians and gay men on the basis of accomodation, employment and service provision? If so, then why doesn't Bob McCoskrie acknowledge this? The Human Rights Act operates independently of whether or not the Marriage Equality Bill is ultimately passed and will continue to do so. What about the rights of others? What about them? This legislation will not "force" churches to wed lesbians and gay men if they are fundamentalist sects. Indeed, the very idea is ludicrous. When it comes to hall or venue hire to secular groups, that is a different matter. It would still be against the Human Rights Act provisions over service provision discrimination if such sects discriminated against same-sex wedding receptions. The same applies to mosques, synagogues, gurdwaras or other places of worship. (And for that matter, what about the rights to freedom of conscience, belief, and doctrine of inclusive denominations and faiths? Surely they are entitled to meaningful religious freedom to follow their inclusive path and recognise religious same-sex marriage ceremonies if they so desire? Isn't opposition to marriage equality therefore a sectarian attack on religious freedom and diversity?) And, as Judith Stacey and Tim Biblarz's work shows, gender and sexual orientation of parents matter less than nonviolent, egalitarian and mutually communicative and stable relationships. From pediatrics and developmental psychology, cumulative mainstream research shows that same-sex parenting indeed does display good interspousal communication, parent/child communication, disciplinary boundaries, altruistic work/home balance in the context of parenting, and does not adversely affect the educational or employment outcomes of children brought up within lesbian and gay-led families. So, sexual orientation does not adversely impact on the prospect of good, child-centred parenting. Is straight parenting obligatory? In a 2010 research paper, Stacey and Biblarz also answered that. Women tend to communicate and interact more with children, while men are engaged in waged work outside the home and play with children more. Men interact with their sons more than their daughters and are more likely to enforce gender conformity than women. Women tend to enforce disciplinary sanctions more often, while men are likelier to neglect, batter or sexually abuse children than women. If there is assymetrical parental division of labour into wage earning and caregiving roles, then relationships suffer, regardless of whether they're straight, lesbian or gay. This may especially be the case if the caregiving parent is economically dependent on their partner for delegated funds for parental responsibilities and especially if there's a rigid gendered division of labour, as in fundamentalist Christian marital relationships. (Indeed, fundamentalist Christians have a higher than normal level of divorce, according to US data from a noted evangelical Christian research group, so should fundamentalists therefore be barred from parenting? Of course not, unless they batter, abuse or neglect children.) And not this lie again- the jury is not out on same-sex parenting. It is only religious social conservatives who question the worth and value of same-sex parenting, and there is no "dissent" within mainstream medical or scientific organisations when it comes to same-sex parenting. When it came to conservative Catholic Mark Regnerus' notorious piece of junk science 'research' against same-sex parenting, several prominent organisations signed an amicus curiae (witness) statement upholding the value and worth of same-sex parenting and rubbishing Regnerus' work. Finally, McCoskrie needs to tell the truth. It is not the case that "lesbians and gays" actively oppose marriage equality. Celibate religious social conservatives who don't act on same-sex desires and brainwashed fundamentalist "exgays" do, but then they would, wouldn't they? And conversely, liberal people of faith support marriage equality and legal recognition of same-sex parenting because they care about social justice and inclusion. Elsewhere in this sorry document, McCoskrie has also engaged in some forelorn targeted lobbying and divided groups of MPs into several categories for priority emphasis. Given that the Government Administration Select Committee will report back to Parliament at the end of this month, and the second reading of the Marriage Equality Bill will then occur, concrete politicking is set to occur from this point onward. McCoskrie begins by targeting the twenty one MPs who voted against civil unions in 2005 but for the Marriage Equality Bill on its first reading last year. One suspects that the House of Commons vote last week that showed a Tory split on support or opposition to marriage equality in the second reading of its Marriage Equality Bill motivated this latest gambit. If so, it's a forelorn move. New Zealand's National Party is not the British Conservative Party, as it decisively won the last New Zealand general election and Key is a secure Prime Minister- which is more than can be said for Prime Minister David Cameron, whose Tory minority government governs with the support of its erstwhile Liberal Democrat coalition partner. Even before that, the British Conservative Party was full of troglodyte/moderniser and Europhile/Eurosceptic factions, and Cameron does not enjoy the support of a unified caucus for that reason. Key does, and given his 'presidential' leadership style, his caucus are ill-inclined to do anything to 'destabilise' their chief asset- their leader. If anything, National's so-called 'swingers' are probably looking at the Tory factionalism over marriage equality and shuddering at the consequences of disunity, which will probably be reflected in an increasing Labour/Conservative opinion poll gap. Oddly enough, Cameron may not be affected by this as his quisling colleagues, given that there is overwhelming public support for marriage equality in the United Kingdom, much as there is in New Zealand, according to the opinion polls. Therefore, ironically enough, the Tory marriage equality caucus split may actually result in resolution amongst any of the National Party 'swingers' who were considering defecting to the nay side of the debate on the second reading not to do so. In any case, how likely is this? According to the pamphlet, these National MPs may be subject to 'swinging' back to opposition to marriage equality, given that they voted against civil unions in 2005: Gerry Brownlee, Judith Collins, Paul Hutchison, John Key, Murray McCully, Lockwood Smith and Maurice Williamson. Of these, Hutchison has said that he is inclined to support marriage equality and adoption reform on a firm evidential basis, Key has made his support for marriage equality abundantly clear, and McCully and Williamson tend to be centre-right social liberals on most issues. As for Collins, she has been rewarded with upward ministerial mobility for her loyalty and can probably be counted on not to rock the boat, as has Brownlee. Then there is another 'identifiable' group of National MPs, who voted for Gordon Copeland's attempt to pre-emptively ban the prospect of marriage equality through amending the Marriage Act 1955 and mangling the Human Rights Act 1993 and Bill of Rights Act 1990's family and marital status provisions. This 'group" consists of Chris Auchinvole, Paula Bennett, Jackie Blue, Jonathan Coleman, Jacqui Dean, Craig Foss, Jo Goodhew, Chris Tremain, Nicki Wagner and Kate Wilkinson. Based on his performance within the Government Administration select committee, Auchinvole looks like a Key loyalist and open to marriage equality, while Wilkinson strikes me as a centre-right social liberal on other issues. In any case, the question of Key loyalism may count for more amongst this group. They may not change vote out of fear that they would weaken their chief asset, Key's leadership, especially given recent events within the United Kingdom. Amy Adams, Cam Calder, Paul Goldsmith, Steven Joyce (!), Paul Goldsmith, Ian McKelvie, Hekia Parata, Jami-Lee Ross and Scott Simpson are the final group, who have no previous parliamentary track record for or against civil unions, relationship equality or marriage equality. Again, it is unlikely that Joyce would do anything to upset the metaphorical apple cart, given that he probably wants an orderly succession from Key to himself when the time comes. Hekia Parata has been rewarded for her loyalty to the current leadership and retained the key Minister of Education portfolio, even amidst all the Novopay teacher pay transaction headaches. Paul Goldsmith may end up succeeding John Banks in Epsom, which is traditionally an urban liberal seat, Adams is Selwyn MP and Ruth Richardson was an outstanding centre-right social liberal in the seat before her. Ross is Botany's National MP, and that is an Auckland metropolitan seat. Meanwhile, something similar may be operating within the Labour caucus. Unlike Key, Shearer's leadership has been attacked from within, although he decisively saw off David Cunliffe's abortive and ill-timed leadership challenge last year after the last national Labour Party conference. However, precisely for that reason, most of Labour's caucus would therefore want to convey the impression of leadership loyalty, particularly given that Shearer obviously views our social constituency as solidly on the centre-left side. Therefore, it is unlikely that Clayton Cosgrove, Parekura Horomia, Shane Jones, Nanaia Mahuta, Rajan Prasad and Rino Tirakatene will rock their respective boat either. Horomia, Mahuta and Tirakatene are unlikely to vote against a fellow Maori Labour MP, and neither Jones or Prasad has struck me as supportive of religious social conservatism in the past. Of these, Cosgrove is the only one who voted against civil unions in 2005. The Greens are written off as unregenerate social liberals, while New Zealand First are conversely applauded for pandering to religious social conservative homophobia. Finally, we come to the Maori Party and three microparties. Tariana Turia isn't regarded as a safe bet, given that although she voted against civil unions, she also voted against the Copeland pre-emptive attack on marriage equality in 2005, as well as for marriage equality in 2012. Pita Sharples and Te Ureroa Flavell have shown little sign of religious social conservatism on this issue- Sharples was significantly liberal on transgender rights when he opposed the first reading of the Manukau antisolicitig bill in its first incarnation during the Clark administration. In the case of ACT, John Banks' current welcome about-face is described as 'surprising,' given his outspoken religious social conservatism during the Bolger and Shipley administrations. However, that was then. During his terms as Auckland mayor, Banks was always sure to show up at Big Gay Out festivities and now represents a centre-right social liberal/classical liberal parliamentary party. After the ructions of 2008-2011, one suspects that Banks wants to convey the impression of a unified party and try to stave off the possible deletion of his party from Parliament were he to lose Epsom. Put bluntly, he cannot afford to misbehave as he did back during the Bolger and Shipley era, and he realises that. He also doesn't want to destabilise Key's leadership and wants to be seen as loyal to his major party partner. So does Peter Dunne. I daresay that there's a touch of schadenfreude and payback in the United Future leader's supportive attitude toward marriage equality. Given the headaches that his Future New Zealand/Kiwi Party carpetbagger caucus caused when they were opportunistically attached to him in Ohariu-Belmont, and Gordon Copeland and Larry Baldock's unilateral secession over Dunne's support for banning parental corporal punishment, he's likely to want to be seen as a moderate voice and consequently support marriage equality. His acidic remarks about the Conservative Party stand as a good indicator of his supportive position. Not Recommended: "Twenty One Great Reasons to Keep Marriage As It Is" Family First: Rebuttals: Judith Stacey and Tim Biblarz: "Does the Sexual Orientation of Parents Matter?" American Sociological Review: April 2001: 158-183. Judith Stacey and Tim Biblarz: "Does the Gender of Parents Matter?" Journal of Marriage and the Family 72 (2010): 3-22 Regnerus rebuttal: Conservative Christians and Divorce: "Barna Study: Baptists have the highest divorce rate" Craig Young - 11th February 2013    
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