|On 9 March, the Leader of the Opposition, Don Brash, voted for an extremist Supplementary Order Paper that would have made draconian interventions into personal morality. Read on... Amidst the pace of the second and third readings of the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill, Stephen Franks moved an absolutely ridiculous supplementary order paper to amend the legislation. Thankfully, it failed, but that isn't the point. Don Brash and Winston Peters both voted for it. It would not be an exaggeration to wonder if Franks lifted the idea wholesale from Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, a nineteenth century literary classic. Hawthorne's historical novel dealt with the plight of seventeenth century adulterer Hester Prynne, in the Massachuesetts Bay Colony. Prynne was liable to be branded with a scarlet A for her sexual misconduct. Never mind that the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill was about spousal rights and responsibilities, and not about antidiscrimination law coverage. It didn't have anything to do with hate speech bans either, but that didn't stop Franks' bizarre comments about the aforementioned, or Supplementary Order Paper 336. According to the New Zealand Parliamentary Library Notes 1224, SOP 336 was intended to remove Sections 21(1)b and s21(m), removing marital status and sexual orientation from the Human Rights Act 1993. SOP 336 would have meant that the rest of us were able to show favour or disfavour to particular "specified conduct"- extramarital sex, extramarital childbearing, the breach of promises exchanged in marriage, desertion, same sex relationships in the nature of marriage, and gay sex. Don Brash and Winston Peters voted for the Supplementary Order Paper in question. Now, according to most opinion polls, opposition to lesbian/gay and bisexual coverage within antidiscrimination laws is definitely a minority taste within the general public. It is decidedly not 'mainstream.' Neither was SOP 336, as it turned out. On March 9, it was defeated, 83-31. While Brash and Peters didn't rise to address the SOP, it is significant that they voted for it, despite its ridiculous provisions. No centre-left MP voted for SOP 336. Rodney Hide and Peter Dunne didn't, but disappointingly, Heather Roy voted for it. Of National's caucus, Brash was joined by usual hardcore Christian Right caucus elements like Brian Connell and Judith Collins, as well as Nick Smith (long a hardcore moral conservative). All of New Zealand First's MPs voted for it, including their party leader and Brian Donnelly, otherwise cherished as New Zealand First's sole voice of liberal sanity on LGBT matters.
As for United Future, Gordon Copeland was the only other United Future MP who didn't vote for this draconian parody of 'classical liberalism.' One has come to expect these surrealist episodes from Mr Franks, but did Brash and Peters honestly have to connive in it? Still, the lesson here is clear. We cannot trust either of them. In the words of Brian Tamaki, 'Enough is Enough.' It is not enough that Brash has signalled that he intends to endanger our hard-fought battle for civil unions and relationship equality. Under any future Brash/Peters coalition, it now seems that even our right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of goods, services and accomodation won't be safe either. If anyone needed any final evidence that Brash is no ally to our communities, then this must be it. Recommended Reading: Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter and Other Stories: Harmondsworth: Penguin: 1970. New Zealand Hansard References Vol 624: 82: 19071-3, 19102. New Zealand Parliamentary Library Notes No 1224: Relationships (Statutory References) Bill, SOP 336. SOP 336: Voted 09 March 2005.
Pro-Discrimination Votes and Caucuses: ACT: Gary Eckhoff Stephen Franks Muriel Newman Richard Prebble Heather Roy Ken Shirley National: Don Brash John Carter Judith Collins Brian Connell Nick Smith Roger Sowry New Zealand First: Winston Peters Peter Brown Brent Catchpole Brian Donnelly Bill Gudgeon Dail Jones Ron Mark Craig McNair Paraone Bill Perry Jim Peters Barbara Stewart Doug Woolerton United Future: Paul Adams Marc Alexander Larry Baldock Bernard Ogilvy Judy Turner Murray Smith Craig Young - 21st July 2005