Title: 59 Way Out Credit: Craig Young Comment Thursday 1st March 2007 - 12:00pm1172703600 Article: 1611 Rights
What lessons can we learn from the almost-failed fundamentalist campaign against Section 59 Repeal? On this issue, the Christian Right displayed ample cracks and fissures if you knew where to look. For example, Catholic Right groups (Right to Life New Zealand and Family Life International) declared their opposition to the Bradford Bill after the passage of the bill's second reading. Why? Liberal Catholics are understood to be incensed at this attack on their own core principles of peace and nonviolence, and will probably give their right-wing counterparts a hard time within the institutional church. On this issue, liberal Christians are one hundred and eighty degrees away from their counterparts. But denominational friction wasn't the only faultline if one knew where to look. The Maxim Institute took a back seat this time. It only provided an online issue summary, select committee submission and Michael Reid's book on the subject of children's rights, which hasn't been well-publicised. In the case of Section 59 Repeal, most of the running (and shrieking) was conducted by the Christian Right Old Guard, which seemed to have some not inconsiderable connections to the defunct Christian Heritage Party. Such as? Well, Garnet Milne (Wanganui) and Mike Petrus (Society for Promotion of Community Standards) were past CHP election candidates, in Yaldhurst (Christchurch) and Kapiti Coast (near Wellington). One of Right to Life New Zealand's previous patrons was serial paedophile and former CHP Leader Graham Capill. Craig and Barbara Smith of Family Integrity published a Homeschoolers Association essay assignment related to why the death penalty was a good idea, and supported the CHP in a copy of their defunct newsletter, Keystone. And CYFSWatch seems to be based on earlier anti-CYFS organisations like "Parents Against Injustice", once run by ex-CHP candidate for Palmerston North, John Tonson. In fact, Family First and the Maxim Institute are the only ones who don't have some sort of backstory with that outfit. No, this is not a conspiracy theory. It is logical, as the defunct fundamentalist political party was a national network and provided an opportunity for militant fundamentalist malcontents from around the country to meet one enough and establish linkages, and opposing stricter child welfare laws has been on their agenda for some time. They want to pretend they're mainstream? Like hell they are. And why did it fail? Because Bradford had most of the major New Zealand child health and welfare organisations onside, and they carried far more professional credibility and clout where it mattered than the scrofulous rural and provincial extremists of the Christian Right. That's an especially important lesson for us when the time finally comes for adoption reform legislation. Between then and now, we need to get those organisations onside over same-sex parenting, if they are not already. Fortunately, most of their United States counterparts already are, and there are ample professional journal articles and research papers to substantiate our case. Added to which, there's the matter of extremism. If anything helped to win the civil union controversy for us, it was Brian Tamaki and his anti-gay, anti-Civil Unions "Enough is Enough" rally in August 2004. In retrospect, the CYFSWatch contributor who threatened to attack and kill Sue Bradford might have done the pro-repeal side much good. Remember, these people aren't from mainstream political backgrounds, most of them are from the Christian Heritage Party, inside which practicality was never a strong point. RTLNZ is an extreme prohibitionist anti-abortion group which still dreams of obliterating women's reproductive choice. And apart from media hacks like Ian Wishart, Leighton Smith and the gaga Jim Hopkins, no-one else supported their disgusting little crusade. If they carry on like this the next time we face off against them, it will be a short, sharp and sweet battle. For us. Craig Young - 1st March 2007    
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