|Family First: Failed to prevent marriage equality. Now even its Protect Marriage website has ceased to exist. Why doesn't Family First admit defeat and close down? The so-called "pro-family" "movement" in New Zealand is dying and it's time that Bob McCoskrie admitted its dire state.
Losing marriage equality was a major defeat for the New Zealand Christian Right. Other than the arrival of co-parent adoptive parent status, it was largely about ritual and ceremonial commemoration of monogamous relationships and these can and do often occur without any religious involvement in contemporary New Zealand society and culture. In its tiresome and repetitious antigay campaign, Family First revealed itself to be cravenly dependent on the Witherspoon Institute, Family Research Council (hence the "Protect Marriage" name for its website), National Organisation for Marriage, Focus on the Family and the rest of the US Christian Right and its dependent satellites elsewhere, such as Lifesite Canada and Britain's anti-abortion SPUC.
More than any other previous antigay campaign, Family First was dependent on propaganda and tactics from these sources. There was just one problem in this context - this had been anticipated and New Zealand's LGBT communities are particularly effective at competitor monitoring when it comes to our political interests. We stockpiled evidence that supported same-sex parenting, aware that it might be a particular battlefield.
With the failure of their campaign against marriage equality and inclusive adoption reform, there's really nothing else LGBT left to oppose. Granted, the Canadian Christian Right has campaigned against the Canadian federal transgender rights bill (C-279), which hasn't stopped its steady progress into eventual law. Granted, it has also crusaded against Manitoba's Bill 18 and Ontario's Bill 16 (comprehensive anti-bullying protection laws), but that didn't get anywhere either.
And thanks to the Internet, we can constantly monitor the lies, propaganda and tactics of the Canadian Christian Right and Canadian LGBT community responses made to these issues. Family First might as well as face it. It's no good fighting any rearguard action. LGBT rights are off the agenda for them, permanently. Moreover, their parliamentary defeat was the largest margin of defeat endured by a New Zealand Christian Right pressure group.
As if to emphasise the magnitude of Family First's defeat, I noticed something unannounced but significant when I searched for its former "Protect Marriage New Zealand" website in early August 2013. On August 11, I noticed that it had taken down that former website and did not list it on its main webpage. This implies that it has now abandoned its post-passage campaign against marriage equality and adoption reform, having nothing further or substantive to contribute to the debate.
It also implies that it does not view campaigning against marriage equality and same-sex parenting as one of its core missions. Most of its pro-belting subsidiary websites had now also become subordinate webpages to the main organisation.
As I've said before, the future of the New Zealand Christian Right will centre on the anti-abortion and anti-euthanasia movement, not that the anti-abortionists will have much of a chance against a growing pro-choice movement on the other side of that debate. That will mean that organisations like Right to Life New Zealand, Family Life International and their ilk will survive.
However, that leaves little room for the redundant antigay "pro-family" organisations like Family First. It faces a future of decline, weakness and ultimate quiescence like the Society for Promotion of Community Standards down on Wellington's Kapiti Coast, Johnsonville and Upper Hutt. Even if the "World Congress of Families" continues to provide donor assistance to any future political campaigns, Family First therefore risks being seen as an outpost of (US Christian Right) empire, with little real domestic support. It has already been struck off the Charities Register and it remains to be seen whether any future restorative judicial activity will be effective, pending Greenpeace's own challenge to its similar deletion by the Charities Registration Board.
And practically, it may be forlorn placing too much reliance on New Zealand First and the Conservative Party. Both organisations are strongly centralised around their current leadership. Winston Peters is ageing and there is no obvious replacement within his caucus, while Colin Craig's microparty may have a substantial war chest and infrastructure now, but then so did the Christian Heritage Party back in the nineties, and look what happened there. Colin Craig may never win a bolthole electorate seat, and it is also possible that the sub-threshold single-seat bolthole party list top-up option may be abolished in the event of a Labour/Green victory at the next general election in 2014.
Not Recommended: Vote Family First: http://www.votefamilyfirst.org.nz/ Family First: http://www.familyfirst.org.nz/ Dead Link: http://www.protectmarriage.org.nz/ Normal 0 false false false EN-NZ X-NONE X-NONE Craig Young - 21st August 2013