|In the Maxim Institute's latest Evidence magazine, there appears to be a puzzling disengagement from opposing LGBT rights. I searched for jeremiads against relationship equality and same-sex parenting in vain. Never mind, Bruce Logan was there to provide comic relief. There's no other way to describe his bizarre editorial. Bruce? New German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democrats isn't a social conservative, she's a centre-right social liberal, more akin to ex-National PM Jenny Shipley here. And then there's his facile observation about why Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin voted Labour/Green- apparently, they're full of beneficiaries. Bruce? Wellington Central is one of the most affluent electorates in the country, yet Labour's Marion Hobbs actually increased her majority? And finally, the centre-left gets called 'moralist.' At least when we make ethical statements, they're backed by evidence-based medical and social scientific proof, unlike the Christian Right. So, what does this 'disengaged' issue of Evidence actually mean? I suspect that as soon as they do get their hands on a new paper that 'debunks' same-sex parenting, they'll slavishly copy it. But will Logan still be editor of Evidence, or Institute research director, when that time comes? According to the NZARH's Fundy Post, Logan lifted chunks of content from kindred Anglo-American Christian Right/social conservative publications and individuals like the Mackinac Centre for Public Policy, Conservative Christian Fellowship, Heritage Foundation, First Things, Melanie Phillips, the Spectator, Maggie Gallagher and Digby Anderson. Can Logan survive in the long term as Maxim Research Director after this? Will Michael Reid take over the Christchurch offices if Logan goes? Will the Institute close down its Christchurch offices and centralise in Auckland? Will the media trust the Institute's copy ever again if he doesn't go? Unfortunately, the Institute will survive any debacle, however badly damaged. While I always thought the Institute was dependent on the US Christian Right and social conservatives for its propaganda, I never suspected that it was anything other than intellectual- as opposed to apparent verbatim transcripts. Meanwhile, United Future has asked for a review of the Prostitution Law Reform Act as part of the price of coalition involvement. It was going to happen anyway. It may try to weaken the brothel zoning sections, akin to what happened in New South Wales. Eventually, the Carr ALP state administration got tired of these orchestrated antics from Fred Niles' Christian Democratic Party, and removed the relevant provisions from legislation that covered sex work. I suggest that supporters of the decriminalisation of sex work band together to stop the Christian Right from abusing the process of local government accountability on this issue. From this perspective, UFNZ List MP Gordon Copeland is the worst offender. He continually cited tiny pressure groups like Christchurch's Right to Life New Zealand and Wellington's Society for Promotion of Community Standards, despite the tiny size of these unrepresentative pressure groups. Remember, the Institute will be trying to co-ordinate things, so check out their website regularly. And what about the next three years? At least we won't go backwards, although we might stand still when it comes to adoption law reform. At a guess, I'd say the government might have gotten cold feet because the Netherlands, Denmark and Great Britain are the only others who have taken that step at the national level. Over the next few years, more countries will complete that step, more evidence about the benefits of same-sex parenting will accumulate, and we will have the time to observe and prepare for the inevitable. It might be sooner, if New Zealand First and United Future prove unreliable as coalition partners. I suspect that the Clark administration may be keeping lines of communication with the Greens and Maori Party open, just in case. In any case, there are still 'consensus' LGBT issues that don't serve as trigger points for antagonism with the Christian Right, like community organising against crystal meth, and using the forthcoming Pharmac review process to press for better PLWA access to protease inhibitors and combination therapies. If it's a stalemate for us, it's a stalemate for them, too. They don't get repeal of LGBT relationship equality legislation, or same-sex marriage bans. It'll be interesting to see what happens if NZF's Peter Brown reintroduces the Death With Dignity Bill, and UFNZ throws a temper tantrum.
Recommended Reading: Bruce Logan:"Editorial" Evidence 15 (Spring 2005): 2. http://www.cdp.org.au Christian Democratic Party (NSW, Fred Nile) http://www.maxim.org.nz Maxim Institute http://www.nzarh.org.nz New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists/ Fundy Post http://www.unitedfuture.org.nz United Future New Zealand Craig Young - 22nd October 2005