|Strangely dressed people 'bobbing' about... Whenever one reads the aimless "bobbing" on Family First's website, one encounters a strange time warp. And not of the more welcome Rocky Horror Picture Show dance routine variety, either. What's up with the Christian Right pressure group?
It's been several months since I've reported on its activities, and it rather seems to have lost its way in the aftermath of the passage of marriage equality and the abandonment of Labour List MP Maryan Street's End of Life Choices Bill. While the Conservative Party has an election to prepare for, and Right to Life New Zealand has its hands full trying to fight abortion access in Southland and Tauranga, as well as the postponed but not cancelled End of Life Choices Bill, Family First has been "bobbing" (...) about aimlessly. Take a look at its latest news shorts section, for example. It deals with pot, prostitution and parenting.
Now, one would have thought that they'd be more focused on the Manukau City Council (Regulating Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill, given that it's finally going to be reported back on March 28 by the Local Government and Environment select committee. Despite tiresome frequent outbursts from fanatical New Zealand First List MP Asenati Lole-Taylor, however, there's been little co-ordinated campaigning against it by the Christian Right since its select committee stage. Although it did provide an interim "Value Your Vote" 2013 section on issues like marriage equality and Key administration perfidy over problem gambling and the Sky City casino deal, it didn't focus much attention on its other cited issues, paid parental leave and the Manukau City bill.
(Not that the Christian Right has been terribly well co-ordinated when it comes to the issue of the Manukau City bill. Predictably, the Conservative Party made a dutiful submission against it, but Ian Wishart's peculiar Investigate magazine ran a long tirade against Auckland Mayor Len Brown over irrelevant questions about his marital infidelity with Bevan Chuang, overlooking the fact that Brown and several other social conservative Auckland Councillors back the anti-sexworker bill, and that Asenati Lole-Taylor has shared rabble-rouser platforms with Brown and other backers of the private members bill in question. One wonders if there'll be fireworks over that, although Wishart is a loose cannon when it comes to the rest of the Christian Right. Oddly enough, despite what one would think, Wishart has neglected to run an article on the anti-sexworker bill.)
One wonders why the pressure group bothers to maintain its "Protect Marriage" website. Nobody really wants to revisit the marriage equality debate all over again, even Colin Craig and his Conservative Party, who want to waste taxpayers money on yet another referendum against the current New Zealand parental corporal punishment, given that we already had one back in 2009, but doesn't intend to fight marriage equality when further conflict is pointless. So, why does Family First do it? It's not as if there is any meaningful, large scale movement for concrete spousal law legislative reform to include polyamorous relationships, whatever fantasies it might entertain about events in Scandinavia, Canada and the Netherlands, which got there before us. Granted, there may be lobby groups, but they're weak and preliminary efforts. Meanwhile, happily, the transphobic "Pacific Justice Institute" is not having everything its own way in California, given its disgusting attack on new state transgender child protection legislation. Its referendum petition has bogged down and there are questions about signature authenticity. This may delay any Family First attempts to import this campaign to New Zealand, given how slavishly it follows propaganda, tactics and strategy from the US Christian Right. Or is it conserving its resources for an all-out push to get the Conservatives into Parliament?
As I've noted beforehand, there's really no place for Family First in the future development of the New Zealand Christian Right. The pressure group in question will find decreasing public interest in its narrow clutch of antifeminist, antigay, transphobic and antiabortion political concerns as New Zealand society continues to steadily secularise. Given the likely future prominence of the euthanasia law reform debate and the revival of the End of Life Choices Bill after the forthcoming 2014 New Zealand general election, there will be a place for Right to Life New Zealand, although given the Conservative Party's opportunist stance toward binding citizens referenda, there may be problems in any relationship with the two pressure groups. Granted, in Canada, there are still post-equality Christian Right pressure groups that try to mount rearguard actions against antibullying legislation and transgender rights, but neither have been successful. And unfortunately for the Canadian Christian Right, the Harper administration is ailing at the polls and looks set to probably lose the next Canadian federal election, to be held in 2015, which may mean an exit of religious social conservatives from the federal House of Commons and final passage of C-279, the long-anticipated federal Canadian gender identity antidiscrimination amendments to the Canada Human Rights Act.
Family First has no real future. It's time that Bob McCoskrie admitted that and moved overseas if he wants to continue to pursue his militant fundamentalist political agenda, because it seems that given our increasingly secular society and politics, the New Zealand Christian Right will contract down to the antiabortion/antieuthanasia movement that it was before the emergence of LGBT legislative reform here during the eighties. No doubt the World Congress of Families will welcome him with open arms should this happen, given that one reason for his liaisons over there back in May 2013 might have been future prospective personal career development overseas.
Not Recommended: Family First: http://www.familyfirst.org.nz Protect Marriage: http://www.protectmarriage.org.nz Investigate: http://www.investigatedaily.com Value Your Vote: 2013-2014: http://http://valueyourvote.org.nz/end-of-year-2013.html Craig Young - 13th February 2014