Title: Marriage Equality: A Perfect Storm? Credit: Craig Young Comment Wednesday 27th February 2013 - 11:21am1361917260 Article: 12971 Rights
With the Government Administration select committee about to report back on the Marriage Equality Bill, what can we expect from its opponents? What would happen if Family First failed to get enough backing for an anti-equality referendum...? Family First has gone oddly quiet, given that most reputable media outlets ignored its ruminations about the truncation of Government Administration select committee hearings on the Marriage Equality Bill. Why is it so strangely quiet? It may have gone quiet for financial reasons. The New Zealand Christian Right doesn't seem to be in a good financial condition during the marriage equality campaign period. Right to Life New Zealand vacuumed up most of the available free-floating donor cash amongst Christian Right adherents when it came to its failed marathon court vendetta against the Abortion Supervisory Committee's regulatory capabilities. In a time of recession, that has contributed to donor problems for Family First, coupled with small business retrenchment and possible failure, evident in the reduced complement of donor businesses for the last "Forum on the Family" in July 2012. Indeed, when it comes to anti-bill propaganda, Family First has been largely restricted to two online pro-forma print templates. One of them dealt with form submissions to the Government Administration Select Committee, while the other is a form template to dissuade mostly National MP supporters of the bill's first reading from repeating the performance at the now-imminent second reading, scheduled on March 15. Its anti-bill petition has struggled to obtain new signatures. Certainly, there have been no billboards, badges, television or radio advertisements, or even all that many public meetings against marriage equality, even in the conservative rural provincial areas. This may be because Family First is saving the effort for later during this campaign. It may have written off the select committee process, and be awaiting the second and third readings of the bill so that it can then get on with running a non-binding citizens referendum against marriage equality. Oh, really? I'd like to see them try. After all, only four non-binding CIRs have ever made it past the petition stage to the final full referendum phase- which were a referendum on firefighter staffing numbers, the number of MMP MPs within New Zealand's Parliament, sentence duration and the Christian Right's own campaign against the passage of the parental corporal punishment ban. Given the success of the Labour/Green petition against asset sales, there will probably be an additional one for that purpose in 2014. Even during the current phases of debate over marriage equality, it has only managed to get 50,000 signatures or so on its initial petition. It should be recalled that an earlier Christian Right petition against prostitution law reform fell short of the crucial numbers needed to trigger a non-binding referendum, as did the Kiwi Party's ill-fated nonbinding referendum to initiate binding referenda (!) in 2010. And in any case, under the CIR Act 1993, it would be a non-binding referendum, not a binding one. Would they therefore be able to get the requisite amount of supporters for a referendum? And in the event of a wild card like Maryan Street's End of Life Choices Bill on euthanasia law reform being pulled out of the ballot box, would the existing dissension between fundamentalists and conservative Catholics over the advisability of binding citizens referenda as a double-edged sword political tactic turn into a gaping, divisive wedge between the two former allies? Moreover, what if it fails to attract enough petition signatures? If the above 'perfect storm' scenario eventuates, the organisation would be doomed to failure. Family First is playing with fire on this one. The road to hell is paved with tactically expedient moves of dubious strategic merit. Recommended: Marriage Equality NZ: Legalise Love: Not Recommended: Family First: Protect Marriage: Right to Life New Zealand: Conservative Party: Craig Young - 27th February 2013    
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