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Reflections on Church and State (Auckland) - Marriage Equality

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[00:00:00] This podcast is brought to you by pride in [00:00:03] With special thanks to St. Matthew and the city. [00:00:08] Good evening. I'm Klay Nelson. And on behalf of say Matthew in the city and the Auckland Community Church, I want to thank you for being here. And to welcome you. I know it takes some effort to be here at six o'clock, doesn't it? with traffic and all know, our apologies for the traffic. But I especially want to welcome our guests this evening, Louisa wall and Boris Dietrich. [00:00:40] Welcome, welcome, welcome. [00:00:44] Before getting on with [00:00:45] the program, few housekeeping duties. The fire exits are followed me where I go screaming [00:00:54] if there's an emergency, but the doors you came in, there's a side door over here. And if you go to down the stairs where the lose are as well, there's an exit out of the building at that time. Afterwards, courtesy of after the forum courtesy of the Auckland Community Church we'll have a couple of we can get to know each other a little better. [00:01:20] Before introducing our guest speakers, I would just like to make a few comments on the topic. under consideration marriage equality, reflections on church and state. The focus on church and state explains why this forum is being held in a church. It is being held in this church because of our historic support of the LGBT community and our unqualified support for passage of the Marriage Equality Act. [00:01:51] As you might be able to tell I'm an American. And as an American, I'm a fervent believer in an impenetrable can say the word though impenetrable wall of separation between church and state. In the US, it is the church that keeps trying to breach it, and it has succeeded too many times. And now Tara, New Zealand, the Bill of Rights calls for a separation. But there's a long tradition of Christian and Marley. Spiritual spirituality being included in Parliament schools and on public occasions. I've been an outspoken critic of some of these practices, especially in public schools, in particular the Bible Schools Program. I believe separation protects both the church and the state from abuses by others, and allows for true freedom of religion as well as Freedom from Religion. Some of my own Anglican, some of from my own Anglican tradition and other Christian faith groups believe the Marriage Equality Act will force them to do marriage is between same sex couples. As you will hear in more detail tonight that it's not the case. No minister celebrant is ever required to marry anyone. This has always been true and will not change with this act. So why do other Christian communities object to doing same sex marriages, primarily because they claim it some biblical and will harm traditional marriage? I won't dwell on this now except to say there are all kinds of marriages, [00:03:30] such as polygamy in the Bible, that do not meet our understanding of marriage today. Within our Anglican tradition, we have moved from understanding marriages, being about procreation to being about making a loving commitment. [00:03:47] Our understanding of marriage keeps evolving, and I suspect will continue to do so. passage of this act will just be one more step along the way of human evolution and understanding. [00:04:01] well enough for me, let me introduce him you've come to hear [00:04:08] was she? Before I do that, let me explain how the program is going to go. Boris is going to do most speaking, I'm told, then we're going to take questions from you all. And then Louisa is going to do an update. [00:04:23] So [00:04:25] Louisa hardly needs any introduction, especially since her private member bill for marriage equality was selected by lottery to be debated this year. Lewis is the elected member of parliament for men are real. That's one of Mari words I can't say very well, and is a current member of the Minority Affairs Select Committee. Lewis is also the Labour Party spokesperson for the community and voluntary sector and the sports and recreation portfolios. [00:04:59] Lewis is nobody too far a toll and why caught up. [00:05:07] She's brought with her Boris. [00:05:10] Boris is the advocacy director of the LGBT program under the Human Rights Watch in New York. Boris is a native of the Netherlands and has served in their national congress for 12 years as a member of parliament. During his tenure, as its first openly gay member in Parliament, he passed for private bills, something that has never been done before or since. [00:05:35] It was his bill for marriage equality that made the Netherlands the first country in the world to introduce marriage equality. This is just a sample of his many experiences that can enlighten us as to what to expect if this bill passes. I asked you to warmly welcome Louisa and Boris. [00:06:03] It's all yours. [00:06:07] Thank you very much for your well, warm welcome. And thank you very much for being here on this wonderful sunny day, I really appreciate that. We were stuck in traffic. So I could have a good look at of Auckland. Because actually that was the only time that I could see something about Auckland, because for the rest during the program, I've been inside in buildings, talking to people listening to people. So it was actually wonderful. getting stuck in traffic and looking around. For me, it's very [00:06:40] special to speak in a church. And while I was listening to you, I all of a sudden had to think about something that happened to me. When I was about, I would say seven or eight years old. I was raised Roman Catholic in the Netherlands. And every Monday morning at school, the priesthood, come to our class, and will then talk about Sunday's ceremony and church sermon. And then we'll ask about what we thought about what the priest had said. And then one Monday morning. [00:07:20] He was talking about the sermon. And then he asked if we wanted to become a priest later in life. And we were with many boys seven or eight years old. And then he gave turns to everybody. And then the turn was coming to me. And I was getting nervous and nervous. What should I say? And I thought, let's be honest. So when the term it was my turn, I said no, I was the only one because everybody wanted to become a priest. And I said no. And he was really shocked. And he said, why not? And then I said, Because priests cannot marry. [00:07:55] And actually, that is true for a Roman Catholic Church. [00:08:00] And later on in life, when I started to work on marriage equality, and sometimes had to think about that event, because the priest was upset with my answer. And he sent me out of the class, and I had to wait in the corridor, because I was disrupting the order of the class by saying no, but I still think I'm right, because Chris cannot get married. Anyway, all of a sudden, I had to think about that, while you were introducing me. So it's an honor for me to speak in a church. And I would like to take you back to 1994 when I was first elected in the Dutch parliament, as the first openly gay Member of Parliament, and in my first debate with the Minister of Justice, I presented the plan the concept of marriage equality. And I said, I think the time is here now, to introduce marriage equality, full equality for people have the same gender, because it's a reflection of the principles of non discrimination, and equality. And in the beginning, in 1994, nowhere in the world people could get married have the same sex. So it was rather a new idea, and people had to get used to it. [00:09:22] Because we are in a church, I think it would be right to really emphasize how shocked people from different religions were. One once this proposal had been published, I got enormous amounts of letters of people saying my religion tells me that this is wrong. [00:09:47] God created aid, Adam and Eve. And so a man and a woman and history doesn't know any same sex marriages. So why would you want to introduce something so alien, something so deviant into our tradition, into our culture into our country. And that really started a whole discussion, if churches [00:10:15] or synagogues or mosques would be forced to conduct same sex marriages, once civil marriage would have been introduced in the legislation. [00:10:29] It has been a very fierce debate. Sometimes people get very, very emotional, so emotional that I received death threats, also from the religious communities and had to be guarded by bodyguards. [00:10:47] Simply because people were upset that such a new concept would be introduced into our society. And I remember [00:10:58] when we were discussing built in Parliament, the leader of the Orthodox Christian political party, it's a very small political party, but it's the oldest one in the Netherlands. And by the way, it's a political party that doesn't allow women to have an official function. And it's really something weird in a country like the Netherlands, that party still exists. But anyway, it's that's the case. And that leader in the political debate, the final debate, he said, the wrath of God will be upon you, because you have introduced this devious act into our society, and God will punish you, and all those members of parliament who would vote in favor of it. Fortunately, we had a huge majority of the bill. And I remember because I lived in Amsterdam, and the parliament is in The Hague. so late at night, it I think it was two in the morning, I had to go back by car from the Hague to Amsterdam, which is, let's say, one hour's drive. And I was so shocked by you know, the spell that I thought I have to drive very, very carefully, because just imagine if I would get an accident, people who think well see God has punished him. So I was driving so slowly, that I became really a danger on the road, and people started to honk, let's go fast, fast. Anyway, [00:12:34] the bill has passed. And in 2010, one, in the first of April, it was implemented. And the interesting thing is that once people got used to two men or two women getting married, you know, all the fear and all the concerns actually evaporated. And what we see now is that many members of parliament from the Christian parties who voted against marriage equality, have now changed sides and acknowledged publicly that they were wrong, or at least that they changed their minds, and they are now in favor of same sex marriage. In 2007, the Christian coalition gain power. And the biggest political party at a time the Christian Democratic Party started to govern with another small Christian orthodox political party. And that party had in his party Manifesto, the repeal of same sex marriage. And mind you then we had same sex marriages already for about seven years. So everybody was a little concerned, what would happen once they would start governing. But on their first press conference, they said, we've thought about this, we have the repeal of same sex marriage in our party Manifesto. But we've seen so many gay couples, lesbian couples getting married, becoming happy vowing responsibility, love commitment to one another. And those are actually values that we support from our religion. So we decided to let it be, we will not repeal the same sex marriage act. And I thought that was really a watershed moment, because from that moment on, actually, it's not so much a discussion anymore. Everybody has accepted marriage equality into the Duchess society. It's an integral part of society. And it's, is there and it will be there. So I'm very glad that that happened. We are now in 2012. So it's 11 and a half years after the introduction of the same sex marriage act. And we see that in society, people really understand and feel that this is something that is there and is there to stay. About one year ago, I went to a birthday party. And some young kids came to me and said, Is it true that in the last century, gay people could not get married? I said, Yes, that's true. And he said, That's discrimination. And then I said, Yeah, and that's why we changed the law. And it's actually so wonderful to see that a whole generation now is growing up. And they don't understand that there was a time that this was not possible. So that shows you that once people get used to a new concept, and see that people are happy, and that there is no revolution that will break out and that God did not punish the Netherlands and we did not fall into a moral Abbess, as several people predicted, then life goes on, and people are okay with it. And we can focus on other issues. [00:16:01] And we need to focus on other issues, because sometimes people think, you know, once you have marriage equality and full equality for LGBT people and other people, that there is no problem in society anymore. And that's, of course, not true. People always discriminate. And so we have to be very alert, and mindful that, [00:16:26] that we will address those issues, because even though we have same sex marriage, and all kinds of other provisions in Dutch legislation, so there's not so much to achieve in terms of legislation anymore. There are still young people who commit suicide, for instance, because they are gay or lesbian. And they find themselves very isolated from the rest of society. And thinking about discrimination, there are many forms of discrimination. But the difference between being born in an ethnic minority group, for instance, is that you're together with your family, and you're all from the same ethnic minority and you're a discriminated maybe, from outside, but you have each other, and you feel safe in your own environment. But when you're gay, or lesbian, and or transgender, and you find your identity, usually, when you're young, you're on your own, because you have to tell your parents, your brother's, your sisters, your environment. And sometimes those environments can be very hostile. And so it's very important. [00:17:42] As a young person, when you come out that you understand that you are part of society, and actually, I think that is one of the most wonderful effects of marriage equality in the Netherlands, is that young people, when they come out there feel they are protected or supported by the law, because the law says you are equal, there is no difference between you or a heterosexual person, you can even get married with a partner of the same gender. And that helps people understanding that, although they are different from the majority, in terms of sexual orientation, or gender identity, that the law is on their side, and that's a psychologically very important step. [00:18:31] Internationally after 2009, one, many other countries followed. And I've been active in same sex marriage campaigns in Belgium and Argentina, and also in Australia, where as you know, same sex marriage was voted down. But the interesting thing is that in each of those countries, when the proposal has been done in Parliament, the same kind of discussion erupts. And actually, today, Louisa and I went to Wellington, to the committee that was hearing submissions, oral submissions about the marriage of her Marriage Equality Act. We heard exactly the same arguments like 15 years ago in the Netherlands, about Adam and Eve and about why it's so important that only heterosexual people can get married. Even one of the members of parliament was very interesting question to me, as we How do gay people or lesbian people, how do they get children? And I thought, What does he want to know from me, you know, was, and so I tried to give an answer. And then he got back to me. And he asked it again and again. And I felt Well, does he want to know, technically how people can get children is set my task now to explain that to him. Unfortunately, the chair of the committee then said, Well, this is actually an hour order. So I got away with it. But it was remarkable that the same type of arguments were, [00:20:12] were actually presented by many people gave oral submissions as in the Netherlands, or in those other countries where I attended us marriage equality campaigns. But But the interesting thing is that in the 11, countries where marriage equality has been achieved, there are no problems actually, and even religious people who were against marriage equality. They accept that it's there that it's the law, democratic process has taken place, and we move on. So there's a lot of fear before something has been introduced. But that's my message, actually. But once it's there, people get used to it and move on. And it's part of society. [00:20:59] Whatever thought was very hopeful and interesting was on the sixth of November, when in the United States, at the presidential elections to place that also in three states, main Maryland and Washington State, people had a referendum about marriage equality. And in those three states, for the first time in the world, actually, by popular vote, people just went to the ballot and voted in favor of marriage equality. So in that case, there was no parliament, or there was no court decision, it was just the majority of two people who said, Yes, our fathers or mothers or brothers or sisters, our sons or daughters, everybody can be gay or lesbian. So why not give them the right, the right that we have the right of marriage equality? So I think it's a good time to stop now and see if there are some questions. Here agree. [00:21:58] Okay, I like to thank you. Well, thank you for your attention. By the way. [00:22:04] If you [00:22:04] have a question, we need to use the mic. [00:22:07] So [00:22:11] all right. [00:22:13] As you you'll probably know, in New Zealand, the civil union act was person 2004. And since then, we've had civil unions, and much of what you said about the opposition of [00:22:30] the opponents of [00:22:32] essentially, the opponents of gay people, let's be honest, [00:22:37] has evaporated in some even who were opposed to civil unions would say, Well, now we've actually got legal status for gay people. There's no need for gay marriage. So from your perspective, you went from I think, having a civil partnership legislation in the Netherlands, to your legislation to have gay marriage. And you must have some experience of why it was important to make that change. [00:23:08] Yes, well, thank you for your question. And at a time in 1994, when I started discussion about marriage equality, in the Netherlands, there was no civil union or registered partnership, as we call it. It was in in Scandinavia. And so we thought, well, maybe marriage equality is too big a step. So let's first start with civil unions. And the funny thing was that once the civil union act was introduced, and people went to the municipality to have their relationship, recognized by the state, when they got out of the municipality building, they said, aha, we are married. And everybody was talking about marriage, while it was not a marriage, but a civil union. So the step to reach a marriage quality was actually not so big, because many people thought, but we do have marriage equality already, don't we? And then we had to explain, oh, it's a civil union. And they thought, oh, but if it's almost the same, why not take the next step. But like, what happened this morning, for the committee, and one of the religious opponents of marriage equality, said, I have to admit that I was against civil unions. But now that we have them, okay, it's fine. I'm in favor of it. But now I'm against marriage equality. And so one of the members of parliament asked, but once we introduced marriage equality, maybe you will be then in favor of marriage equality. And he didn't really have a clear answer. And he said, I hope that marriage will stay a bond between a man and a woman, which is not a real answer, I thought, but we've seen the same thing happened in the Netherlands, that the opponents of the civil union, usually out of religious reasons. Once we had it, they use that as an argument against marriage equality, because the gays and lesbians, they have their separate thing. So why should they need to enter civil marriage? [00:25:18] Is that a answer to your question? Pretty good. Thank you. [00:25:23] Taurus. In this country, you probably heard already, much of the debate against marriage equality, is actually by people who don't like gays anyway. And this is the latest stage upon which to make that clear. And it is true that some have got used to civil union. And I think I can say that in my debates within the church, it's now clear that even some of the more conservative evangelical members of the churches, have it last accepted that gay rights here and have to be accepted. So now we have to, quote, find a way to live with differences, which is quite a step forward, actually. But on the marriage issue, that's still quite concrete. And it's unfortunately, based on a misunderstanding of marriage. [00:26:21] People seem to think that Jesus or God, or somebody started marriage and worked it out. So we, and this is a leading up to a Christian, one of the things is that the education process [00:26:37] within the community, about the basis of marriage, or those things which have contributed to marriage, because marriage is actually [00:26:49] only fairly, fairly recent here for 500 years [00:26:52] long. [00:26:54] What, [00:26:55] in other countries, what processes are being used in education? The general community and the know, the churches, [00:27:04] has been always the confrontation thing, or the submission thing has been primarily focused on schools. I mean, how did it happen? It was a long preamble to Christian at the end. [00:27:20] Get what I'm asking? [00:27:21] Yes, I get what you're saying, How did it happen? Well, actually, there was no debate in the Netherlands about marriage equality, until I started it immediately in Parliament. So there was not a basis of, you know, society, civil society, demonstrating marching in front of Parliament and saying we demand marriage equality. So it was something which landed upon the people. And so it was a shock. And that's why we started talking about it. But public debate in the media, especially, you know, is variable ports and sort of people pick it up and start talking about it at home. And the most important thing I would say is to [00:28:10] avoid [00:28:13] fear mongering, that's actually what it was. Because deliberately, there were people, you know, trying to make other people afraid by saying things that are not true. And actually, I also see that here in New Zealand, when I we heard it on the radio, when we got stuck in traffic, there was this [00:28:34] piece on the news about the committee this morning. And we heard somebody say, people are forced to conduct same sex marriages in churches, the celebrants don't have any choice to it's obligatory, which is really not true when you read Louisa was [00:28:52] equality, Marriage Equality Act. So there's distortion of what is going on simply because people don't like the result, the end result, and they try to instigate fear and concerns with people. So it's very important, not necessarily in schools or in the educational system, but in the public discourse, to really stick to the facts. What is Marriage Equality Act? Well, it's civil marriage. And there is a distinction between civil marriage and religion, the church. And so we need to keep that in mind. And maybe Louisa will talk about that later. But I think it's very important to simply stick to the facts and present the facts and and hopefully, that will be picked up. [00:29:45] In New Zealand, we've got underlying criminal law. [00:29:51] They defined right, as a man raping a woman, and they have a similar crime for a man right? raping a man, but it's not called rape, because of the history between the word of the right, and so you have an unlawful sexual connection. [00:30:08] And what I was wondering, that's been criticizing Islam, because the way it's interpreted by courts is not in keeping with right, even though the starting sentence is the same. [00:30:20] similar argument is why we shouldn't just be okay with us over you know, we want full marriage equality, because it's not been interpreted the same. But wouldn't would it be so difficult to leave the historical term marriage and instead of Marriage Equality Act to completely [00:30:40] remove the gender definition within marriage? Perhaps say, well, a civil union should be interpreted to be the same legal status. If if we change the way it's interpreted if we are positively legislated to say, this is how civil union should be interpreted to be the same? Would that still be Alyssa outcome then full marriage equality? [00:31:06] Well, I think the word marriage has a certain meaning in life. And people understand that it's about love and commitment, responsibility. And if you say, okay, for gay people, lesbian people, we are going to do something else, or we name it something else, then it's like, that concept of love, commitment. responsibility, sharing is not okay for lesbians and gays, and I don't see why we should lessen ourselves or make it less important for the LGBT community. We are part of this society, we are here to stay, we belong. And we are as good as everybody else, or as bad as everybody else. Because there are also terrible gay man and terrible lesbian women. But we are here. And so I don't think we should make any distinction. [00:32:03] Hi, cura welcome. Thank you for coming here today. This has been eye opening. And I'm sure we're all learning. [00:32:12] Why anyway, I don't know if you guys want to talk a little bit more. [00:32:16] I don't want to be a downer. But I find this is neither talking about when it comes to this debate. And I'd like to bring it up singers you've had [00:32:27] same sex marriages. [00:32:31] And then either ones for over 10 years. Marriages don't always work. And they will, they will have been some divorces coming through the legal system from those marriages, which is sad, but to be expected. [00:32:47] When it comes to marriage equality, a lot of people would argue that traditional marriage is not a marriage of equals anyway, because you have, you know, different gender and different expectations. I'd like to know what's happening on that end of it. And in Holland, and [00:33:07] my question is, [00:33:10] is it affecting the way people think about marriage itself, when they just the falling apart of the fact the way they see traditional men, women marriages, same sex marriages? [00:33:25] For me, I would think that all this would be being Christian now. Because, you know, traditionally, back in the olden days, when a couple divorces, the man gets this and the woman gets there and the woman gets preference for, you know, all those things, you know, child [00:33:42] who keeps the children all that kind of thing. [00:33:45] You guys must be going through this right now. I mean, it's probably not the time to talk about it. But if we have foresight, I just was wondering, the impact that is having on the legal system in our society now. [00:34:00] When I proposed marriage equality, one of the fiercest opponents was the LGBT community, or at least part of the LGBT community, and they came to the actual parliament. And they wanted to talk to me, and they were very upset. And they said to me, why do you want to reinforce the institution of marriage because it's unbalanced, and especially women are not really taken care of in a marriage. And now you want to reinforce it by opening it up for LGBT people. I always said, it's a matter of choice. If you don't want to get married, First, you need to have two choices. And then you can say, No, no, I'm not forcing anybody to get married. It might be a little bit too early. But it might be that now that every year hundreds of LGBT couples get married, that that reflects on, let's say abroad, our group of people who get married. And it might be that when two men or two women get married, they are more each other's equals in a relationship than the traditional man who is going out to work and a woman who has to stay at home and taking care of the kids. And it might be that in the course of time, that might influence the balance of let's say, power of the balance of opposite genders in the institution of marriage. And maybe in the long run, I don't know. But it might be that people want to redefine marriage, or maybe rewrite the law and maybe make it much more simple and much more direct, so that it's a bond between two people and the law gives it some legal consequences. And that's it. [00:35:59] Yes, sir. Got a couple of little questions. First, I would just like to make a little theological comment. [00:36:07] I'm speaking from the perspective of 30 years research into homosexuality in the publication of two encyclopedias. And in the course of the research, I came across something that the creative act, God creating the world, or humanity was male to male, God created Adam, and Eve comes out of Adam. And this came up in the Cavalia the Jewish Cavalia is a book called the erotic do erotic Cavalia, the erotic of the Cavalia. [00:36:41] And you could look at Michelangelo's painting the last, you know, the two panes. [00:36:48] However, the, [00:36:52] the way I see, I'm just asking, I'm thinking further ahead, because I think the the marriage to is it's really being won. The battle is, you know, we're nearly there. Not all everywhere in the world. But in the United States after the 2003. Lawrence first takes this case, they can't, it will not be upheld, against gay marriage. The crucial issues that I see from our research, and I've also visited the Kinsey Institute and done research, they are puberty. I think that is the crucial that is much more important than gay marriage. And in many ways, the hysteria about gay marriage is nothing to this theory about puberty. And [00:37:42] the question is, I suppose, how do you see this coming up in the future, and allied with I mean, I also want to make clear here that there are very different legal ages of sexual consent, as I pointed out to yesterday, 13 in Japan, and everybody's going to be horrified when I say this. But I found out recently, that the legal age of consent for six in Delaware was seven in the last century, and it was teen in many other states. Now, anyway, [00:38:16] the next point I want to ask about is pornography or erotica. It seems to me pretty horrifying, that people get chucked into jails. For years, it was a sensational case in Australia for looking at erotica. I mean, if this is also horrifying when the authorities go after the people who are making this horrifying stuff, and I'll just give one little example here. If you type in the words Japan and guy on the internet, see what comes up on the first page? When I looked at it, I thought, My God, you know, I'll be in jail for 30 years. But this is obviously comes from Japan. Anyway, what do you see about the How do you see the puberty issue coming up? and legal agent sexual consent? And also, what are your comments on erotica? [00:39:13] Well, [00:39:16] that's a really good question. Because I cannot really look into the future that much. [00:39:28] The age of consent differs from country to country, and sometimes in country, it differs from male to male sex or opposite sex. [00:39:40] I would argue as representative of Human Rights Watch that we think it should be the same age, there should not be a distinction between homosexual acts or heterosexual acts in terms of the age of consent. But I also think that he should be allowed two countries, two states, two societies to define that in their context, it might be 14 and somewhere else in the world, it might be 15, or 16. I don't have any strong feelings about that. So I don't see. But I cannot really look into the future. But I don't see that there is a world global movement, trying to have the same age, minimum age, for instance, everywhere in each country, the same? I don't know. I don't have any strong feelings about that, about pornography. [00:40:38] It's it's unrelated to marriage equality, of course. But as a former judge, and lawyer, criminal lawyer, I would say that sometimes the people who make pornography are really making use of children, for instance, or people in disability, disabled people, people in a very vulnerable situation, simply to make profits by selling the pornography. And so I think it's very important to look at what is behind the what is the intention of pornography. And so I can understand that there are societies where they want to criminalize pornography, or at least penalize it and are quite strict with it. It all depends, of course, on the subject on what is happening. But I'm not a proponent of saying everything should be free, and because that might endanger people in a vulnerable situation. Now, you had a third question, which I forgot. [00:41:50] Okay, good. Then I tried to give you an answer, and [00:41:55] not the best. [00:42:05] I just heard about the celebrants that they can choose to marry people from the same sex. And it's kind of [00:42:12] bend over at light footed, but I don't I know that in the Netherlands. It's a huge discussion. [00:42:17] It has been it's still going on, I think about celebrities who refuse to marriage. [00:42:23] Yeah, there is a different system. So it's a little bit different, difficult to compare, but in the Netherlands, we have celebrants who are employees of the state. And each municipality has those celebrants and they are obliged, of course, to conduct marriages. When we introduced the same sex marriage bill, there were a few religious celebrants, but they are state employees. And they said, when we started to do this job, there was no marriage equality, and we have religious objections against this. So we would like to have an exemption. And so we said, okay, for those people, who are already celebrants, [00:43:10] they can have an exemption and they can say, Okay, I don't want to conduct a match, same sex marriage. But for all new people that the state would hire, we would say, of course, everybody who is an employee of the state has to execute the law. So there is a very small group of people who still do not conduct same sex marriages. The question is, is this a problem in society. And actually, in those 11 years, it happened only twice. That a couple really wanted to be married by celebrant who said, but I don't want to conduct your marriage. So it is a little weird that when you get married, that you choose celebrant who is uncomfortable with it, because mostly, when you prepare your marriage, you go to the municipality and you have a conversation. And it happens that if a celebrant is not comfortable with same sex couples, he would say or she would say, I'm not available, but my colleague is and so then you have your conversation with a colleague. So it's a very principal discussion, but in reality, it's not really a problem. And the problem will go away because no new celebrants are hired by the state, who before they are hired, say, well, but we don't want to execute same sex marriages. [00:44:38] I have a question. [00:44:44] Have [00:44:45] any of the churches or other religions in the Netherlands [00:44:51] made room in their to do the marriages in their [00:44:57] sanctuary? [00:45:00] Well, I remember that in the beginning, there was no church or denomination who said, Yes, we want to have same sex marriages in our church, but during the years, several of them did so and are very active actually, in promoting that, for instance, have attended several marriages [00:45:24] in the old Catholic Church, so that's not a Roman Catholic Church, but the old Catholic Church and they even have priests who are openly gay [00:45:35] and are married themselves or in a in a gay relationship openly. So there have been and I don't know the terms in English, but in Dutch we have different denominations, which are very open and comfortable like your congregation with LGBT people and they are married in church were also opposite sex couples get married [00:46:04] maybe it's time to listen to the author of the bill Louise a wall and see that Louisa is writing down a lot of notes. So she has some very interesting stuff to tell us I guess. Yes. [00:46:18] So ladies and gentlemen, it's my honor to introduce a wonderful Member of Parliament somebody who I really admire and new inspired me during this week. The Fabulous Louisa wall. [00:46:41] My name is [00:46:43] Tina Koto, Koto, Koto, capital, I want to acknowledge my parliamentary colleague, the Honorable and I am a hotel has traveled up from the White Castle. To be with us today, I want to acknowledge Klay. And I particularly want to knowledge do is follow of St. Matthews in the city. I want to acknowledge Glenn caddy who's not here, who has been, I think, an amazing advocate for not only LGBT rights, but also the rights of any marginalized group in our society. And it's, it's wonderful to have had Boris share his time with us. Bars is an amazing men. And I think he's really understated his qualifications. So is a man who studied law in the became a judge and then into parliament, and is now working at Human Rights Watch international has whole career has been built on fighting for the rights of our community. And I'd like to thank you bars and I know bars, if it was a New Zealand would probably be called sir. virus Dietrich, because he was a honored by Queen Beatrice, the monarch of, of the Netherlands for his work for the people of not only the Netherlands, but now the world. So Boris, I really appreciate the context that you've shared with us in terms of the evolution of marriage equality, because actually, we are in a process of evolution. And my contribution really is about [00:48:29] a bill, another bill that I could have submitted. And I do want to acknowledge that yesterday we were at Oakland law school, and the convener of the session that bars took at Oakland law school was justice to Thomas. And Thomas, I believe in 1998, was an incredibly brave man. Because in the quarter decision, he basically said that there is discrimination and the law, and we need to start sorted out. So for those of you who don't know, just a quick history, because we haven't really talked about the fundamental first principle, which has homosexual law reform. So in 1986, when New Zealand as a country, decriminalized homosexuality, bars that process took 12 years it was first began a New Zealand in 1974 by Vivian young, who was a member of the National Party, but it took 12 years before New Zealand changed as Crimes Act and known and made homosexuality no longer a crime for men. So what we have to remember in this whole discourses, it's never been illegal for women to practice homosexuality, because apparently, Queen Victoria didn't think two women could had sex. But actually, we all know that we can. [00:49:50] Yes, what and in so that the evolution in terms of our own history and, and New Zealand started and it six, and at that time, we know he wanted to extend in terms of our human rights it under Section 21, one of the grounds you can't discriminate on his sexual orientation. Now they took us another, what was it seven years of my missus, right, because it didn't happen in New Zealand until 1993. And then 10 years post homosexual law reform. So in 1995, three lesbian couples went to the local, the local registrar, because then we'd had 10 years of homosexuals being able to live open on a slides, it was no longer a crime. And so three lesbian couples tried to get a marriage license, that marriage license was denied, which leads to the quota decision. Now in 1998, when that decision came out, the government was basically it was exposed to them that there was an anomaly in the law. And our response at that time was to creates civil unions. And I think what's really important, and the progression is that we actually look at where we wanted to go, which ultimately was marriage equality. But to get there we hit to have civil unions. And I do have some statistics for everybody because we have 9429, registered celebrants in New Zealand, of which there are two types, you have independent celebrants, and people who want to be celebrants have to apply and they have to then through a registration process be registered as celebrates, and then we have organizational celebrants so each of the major denominations and less of the ministers and to internal affairs. But the interesting thing in terms of the because we don't have two types of marriages and New Zealand bars, we basically the state issues a license to a couple that wants to marry, you have to pay $122 and 60 seats. And then essentially with your license, you find somebody who wants to marry you. And it's either an independent celebrant, or its organizational celebrants. But most of the winnings that are performed a New Zealand and on average, there's about 20,070% of those marriages are performed by independent celebrants. Only 30% of marriages performed in New Zealand performed in a religious context. So in fact, most people who are marrying today don't marry in a church, they marry it on a beach they marry in a garden, which is what my brother did. And in fact, the last marriage I went to, which was my partner Cruz, nice, they married it to wrangle zoo. So the reality of today, as a lot of the discussions we having, and the difference between civil and religious marriage, people are actually choose them. Because they have the ability to choose a celebrant, they enter in to choose the content of that marriage for themselves. So I think that, yeah, there's a bit of fallacy about the number of people that demand and for churches to marry them in the first place. And the other context and New Zealand is that unfortunately, we're having on average, about 9000 divorces a year. So most of the opposite sex couples than American actually are ending up divorcing. We haven't got the statistics, I was just checking actually, because we on average, we're having about 300 civil unions a year 25% of opposite sex couples, we have about just freaking out about 30% from people who come from overseas, but I don't know at the moment what the rates of divorce within the context of civil union. But from my understanding, there isn't a lot of divorce within that context. So if we want to look at how [00:54:03] people have the same sex marriage is going to affect the whole institution of marriage. In fact, I think the statistics will prove that the institution of marriage practice by hatred, and opposite sex New Zealanders is all really bringing the institution into disrepute and effect that might be non heterosexual New Zealanders that will bring the institution back to what it is all about, which is commitment family. And it is about finding your partner, your life partner. Now I've had a civil union, I found my life partner, but I've had more than one partner in my life I've had, I've had two others, but at no time and those relationships that I either think about formalizing my relationship. Now when I did, [00:54:49] I had a civil union. [00:54:51] And so for me, it is for life. And I'm sure for many people who take the ultimate step, to formalize the relationship, we all do it with the team of it being for life. What I wanted to contribute, as well to the discussion tonight was when I was drafting the bill, there was another proposition put forward, and that was to define a person. So in the Marriage Act, Danny, people can get married. And so I thought about defining a person, a person is a person, regardless of the sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. So what that would have meant was that actually what we would have been discussing was homosexuals, people. And let's get to the that's the crux of the issue. That there are people of religious faith who believe that homosexuals don't deserve to live. That's the reality. And in fact, that's the reality of a bill. That is before the Ugandan parliament. It's a private member's bill. It's called the anti homosexuality bill. It's a member's bill that initially proposed posed to kill homosexuals. Because homosexuals aren't people. And actually, that's, I think, at the heart of a lot of the opposition to any bill that looks at equality is that fundamentally, within religious institutions, people still harbor and I think there actually was talked about today at the slick committee, that homosexuals and people and so we're not human beings, we don't deserve the same rights and privileges as of other citizens? Well, we've had that debate and discussion and New Zealand, we had that in 1986. And I know a lot of you are thinking that's ridiculous. But I actually think that for a lot of the the religious community who oppose and I want to acknowledge that there's a lot of religious community like Glenn like clay, like Margaret maman, and many others, and but there are other people who fundamentally don't believe in a first the first principle, that homosexuality as a normal disposition there, in fact, God made all of us. And I can understand why God has to continue to make homosexuals for people not to realize that he's not he or she or not, we're making a mistake, that actually, we exist, because we're meant to. And so the discussions that we're having, [00:57:28] yeah, I think fundamentally, are about issues to do with it. And I think they are also the issues that other new New Zealanders, for example, who come from have the heritage identities, either in the Pacific or other parts of the world, we're fundamentally, homosexuality is still unacceptable. And in fact, that's the biggest problem we have in the Pacific, because then some more and Tanga, homosexuality is still a crime in actually bars would be able to talk about that a bit more, because it's a major focus service work, we have 193 countries who are member states of the United Nations, in all of those 76 countries still decriminalize homosexuality. And so that's, I think, a base battle that we're still having to confront. And the other issue that's starting to emerge globally, as their countries like Uganda who were colonized by the British, a lot of the laws that we have in our countries were imported by the British. And so there's still a lot of laws around sodomy, for example, that were British laws that have remained and so you now have an independent country. And Uganda, the representatives are elected by democratic process, but they have laws on the statute books that actually are about are about British laws from a different era. They are going to be debating that anti homosexuality bill, either later this or be next week now, but it's on the older paper. But one of the interesting developments is that there have been religious groups based in the United States that have lost the battle in the United States, and are losing it. And I think the three referring the net bars talked about earlier, in initially, what we have to remember about the referenda they happen was the referendum question was, do you agree to the state of Maine issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples? So in fact, it wasn't about do you support gay marriage was do you agree to the state issuing a marriage license, which is exactly the the arguments that we're having here in New Zealand. So what's happened though, in places like Uganda is that seed, that homosexuality is not a part of the Ugandan culture. And so the colonization of those people who were colonized by colony by superpowers, like the UK, like we were, they've now come to a point where, because this phenomenon is really a Western society driven phenomenon around marriage equality, that they now see, countries like the UK, or the US saying to Uganda, you can't create this end homosexuality bill, as the West telling them what to do is the West, now trying to implement the value system on them. And last saying that homosexuality never existed, and you gain insight, a lot of the indigenous culture is being suppressed, which is incredibly fascinating. When you consider that they disliked we had Heaven, New Zealand, and we had, we have Taka, Taka, we, and and a lot of our stories, we have expressions of that. And in fact, now here at our quarter group, who's leading Marty academic has written a book about it. To tannic I had a male lover. And so there were lots of myths and legends that we are revitalizing within our indigenous culture. But the world is at a really interesting place. When places like Uganda can say, then, in fact, the western is trying trying to tell them what to do, because they're saying to them that [01:01:28] that that discriminating against homosexual citizens is not a good thing. So anyway, it's just been quite interesting. Now we were at with the bill as that we had an overwhelming number of submissions. And I think the final analysis might be close to 50,000 submissions on the bill. We had 10,160 submissions through the marriage equality website, what bit to meet for the select committee as that have made a decision, whether we like it or not that any submission that either came through the marriage equality website, or the particular marriage website, they are considering as a form submission. And I know that some people are going to be really upset about it. But the select committee are going to be reporting back to parliament on the 28th of February. And so they are hearing as many submissions as they can. But they had to make a decision about what was full. And so if you've seen a submission through that website, then it's highly unlikely for you to be heard. And I know that many people wanted to be heard. But my committee is committed to hearing as many people as possible. And so because they've made that decision, it means that I'm not sure the total number of submissions they will hear. But today, they were in Wellington, I'm not sitting on the sleep committee, I've chosen to stand outside of the process. I know that a number of other MPs who have bills chose to sit on the Select Committee, but when Barson I went into the select committee room this morning, there was somebody talking specifically about me, and saying that if marriage was so fundamental, then why am I not going to get married? If the marriage legislation goes through? Anyway, this isn't about me personally. And so I've decided I won't sit on those, and on those select committee hearings, but because of it, I actually can't have access to any information isn't deniability. So only the secret select committee have access to the submissions to the program and all that sort of thing. So a lot of people have asked, When are they going to come to Oakland, I can't tell you at the moment, but I'm going to try and find out. And they definitely will come to Oakland. So I know the select committee will be hearing right up until Parliament rises just before Christmas. And I know that they're going to come back mid January. So if any of you have made a submission, then please contact the clack of the government administration slick him and if you haven't been contacted, because they will be trying to [01:04:18] set appointments for people to be huge. Now. So if any of you particularly want to be heard, and you haven't been contacted, and you've made a submission, then that's what I recommend you do. But I'm happy to take questions as well. Klay. Thank you. I'm just thank you all for being here. I think you're here because like Barcena, you're passionate about marriage equality. But fundamentally, you're passionate about human rights and equality and non discrimination. Because the question that you asked the young gentleman at the bank about, if we gave all the same rights of civil union to have married couples to civil union capital, would that be enough? And I don't believe it is because as citizens of the country, we're entitled to all the institutions that the state has, and to limit the ability of anybody to make a choice, which is essentially what this bill will allow, as discrimination and as it tolerable in a modern democratic society, to discriminate against any of our citizens. And that's what I've said to them, you can actually correct all the legislation around civil unions, to make sure that civil unions, capitals can adopt everything else, but fundamentally, a discrimination would still exist. And is it tolerable? And do we have different types of citizenship? That was the other question that I asked him to go to Christian, and I. [01:05:56] Thank you, Boris. And also, my question is, given the overwhelming parliamentary support for the bill, do you anticipate further refinements to your bill to broaden the parliamentary support when it goes through the food reading stage? [01:06:12] And it's a really good question, what I've been really clear about from the start of this conversation that we're having is that we want to eliminate all forms of discrimination in our society. But at the same time, we have to recognize the role of the rights that people have to believe, and the religion so freedom of religion, this is freedom from discrimination. Now, one of the things that's come out as that possibly the is an obligation on a celebrant to marry same sex couples if the bill goes through, because the argument now is that you will be performing a public function. And so as a public and teams of public servants service, you wouldn't been able to make the decision not to because you will be there will be a conflict between the Human Rights Act and the Bill of Rights Act. So what I basically said all along as that I don't want ministers or celebrants to go to jail, I don't want them to do anything that they don't want to. So one of the principles of this is about choice. And so I want to uphold the choice that celebrates and ministers have to marry whoever they want, for whatever reason, and they don't have to disclose what that reason is. And so if the bill needs to be enhanced to ensure that ministers and celebrants are protected, the Nazi to the slick money to the public, to religious leaders, then I'm happy for that to happen. I think that there are adequate protections under Section 29 of the mayor Jake, which sees that you're authorized but not obliged. But there are other people who have different opinions. And so if the select committee decided that we need to further protect ministers, celebrants or religious denominations from ever being forced to do something that they don't want to, then of course, I'm happy for that to happen. And that's what the select committee process is all about. And I'm not proposing any amendments, but if through that process that there are, then I welcome it, because it was certainly my intention right from the beginning, to make sure that ministers have a choice there in there that they're not obliged. [01:08:39] Clarify on this, I'm an anomaly. I am registered as a organizational celebrant, and I'm, as far as I know, the only stipendiary clergy who's also a civil unions Sabra. So the Anglican Church in New Zealand will spend years trying to decide whether or not they're going to permit me to do marriages. But as a civil union celebrant, I could be protected by from the church's wrath [01:09:15] and allowed so are they still going to be called to civil unions celebrants? Are they just going to be called celebrants? [01:09:26] Will? Will I be protected? [01:09:31] Yes, you will, because we're not affecting the civil union act at all. And in fact, we have 537 registered civil union celebrants so we're still going to need civil union celebrants because the demand is there, not only currently from [01:09:48] homosexual non heterosexual couples, but heterosexual couples who don't want the marriage institution they prefer the civil union one. So that will remain as it is. And then what we will have is marriage, celebrants, who will, I guess end up by definition, becoming on another list of celebrants who will choose to marry homosexual, non heterosexual couples. And I know, for example, that the Anglican Church is going through a process, and it's two years away your commission which has been cheated by Saran and such. But what I know about the Presbyterian Church, for example, is that when the General Assembly meets a month ago, now, they made a decision not to support marriage equality, as our remit was passed, that is a an assembly is a religious denomination, they do not support marriage equality. But what they did was to allow the ministers to make the choice for themselves. So I believe people like Margaret moment, St. Andrew's on the tourists will also choose to solemn, nice, and non heterosexual marriages. So there will be I believe, religious marriage celebrants who will be willing to perform marriages for non heterosexual couples, and I think is bar seed and the beginning they were none. And then over time, they have become more and more. And so for me, we're, we're in a space of evolution. And so I'm not sure what your What's [01:11:35] the reason I became a civil union. So I could do the equivalent of him wedding. Yeah. Okay. So if there's going to be a third time. [01:11:47] No, I don't believe there'll be a third count. I think there'll be civil union, celebrants and marriage celebrants, but because marriage celebrants to oblige, I think there will be a subgroup of marriage celebrants who are religious, who will choose to perform marriages for non heterosexual couples? Thank you. And I believe that will also happen in the independent celebrant. area, because the 1700 independent celebrates, and so some are chosen some white but I think they'll end up being, you know, the people that people know, willing and able and, and and it's the other thing about it, I can understand the argument for a couple wanting to force a celebrant, or a minister to marry them. Because a marriage is a celebration, why would you want somebody to marry you? Who doesn't fundamentally believe in your union? It's, it's actually a ridiculous proposition. And the somebody really wanted to make a point, but then they're kind of undermined, bringing your family and friends together in the first place. And I don't know anyone who could do it just to do it to prove a point. So he's [01:13:05] thinking, [01:13:05] but [01:13:07] it would be hard, you don't want to kind of shop around for [01:13:09] celebrant, you know, so how would you know? [01:13:15] on that list, would it be? [01:13:17] And it will, [01:13:18] you Lyft eventual? Yeah, I mean, and the reality when pro and I got married, we had a mighty woman celebrant, because it fits with her. We we had a media, BBC, and I, so we got somebody who, who we knew. And we also knew that they'd be material now, and I ceremony. So actually, you know, when you go through the list, I think that through your community networks, you will know of the people that are most appropriate for you. But you're right, there will be some people who don't, and they will have to ring and I guess it'll be through a process of elimination. But I think that you have, they will be a sub list. That make sense. [01:14:03] Please, I agree with you that the evidence is mounting that heterosexual people bringing the institution of marriage into disrepute [01:14:14] in divorce, and so on. So I wonder if you might consider drafting a new bill in the spirit of New Zealand leading the rest of the world, and that marriage should be four people are saying gender, and that heterosexuals need to have a civil union [01:14:34] will be [01:14:35] fine. But [01:14:36] the interesting discussion and New Zealand was in 2004, I mean, several unions were created to specifically address the issue of same sex couples being able to marry. But we didn't limited just to non heterosexual New Zealanders. And the reason we couldn't as we had the Bill of Rights age, and our legislation can't discriminate. So in fact, we open that institution to all New Zealanders. And I think that's the difference in New Zealand to other places that created civil unions to specifically address the issue about non heterosexual couples being able to have us and have the civil partnership. And I think, is it that was different for you bars is civil unions open to everybody in the Netherlands? And so I think, for the same reason, I mean, why would we create a specific institution for specific group in the population when we believe in equality and non discrimination? It just, [01:15:37] I know [01:15:38] that I took it seriously. But [01:15:44] you do pay me. [01:15:46] Luisa on behalf of myself and [01:15:49] my [01:15:50] gay and lesbian friends, I'd like to thank you for submitting the bill, your absolute rock star and everybody's eyes and they respect I have the pleasure of listening to a lot of late night, talkback radio, as you can imagine, that things can get, especially when the topic of gay marriage and things like that come up, things get quite heated, and one reoccurring, [01:16:16] sort of thing that that tends to come up as the effect that this will have on children. I just want to know what your sort of position as like, what what what do you think about the detractors who the argument against gay marriage is that it's going to affect adversely affect children, with children on the partners going to his more to do with the adoption, but it's some, [01:16:40] like, I know, it's a good point, because because the simplicity of the bill actually means that once you become married, you will have the privilege of being able to jointly adopt. And the most recent evidence from ikat, which is the assisted reproductive technologies group is that in people like Jim Pryor, who was the previous families Commissioner, the International evidence is actually really clear that children who grow up and same six families and adversely affected because the most important factor and family factors about family functioning, not family form. And so people who argue from that position, do so without the evidence to support them. And it's very much based on [01:17:31] it's, it's discrimination, and all those other things, I don't want to go into them. But But basically, the evidence is becoming more and more clear. And certainly the New Zealand evidence is really clear. But as their children need people who love support, care, and have got attachments to them. So having a mother and a father, actually isn't the most important thing for children to grow and develop. And so I just say, look at the evidence, I mean, around all of us at about the evidence, that's the science around [01:18:05] 10, a quarter to both of you [01:18:11] don't really have a question, but I do have something I want to say to each of you. [01:18:17] First of all, I just like to observe that I was actually quite pleased to hear about you being stuck in the traffic, not just because it gave you a chance to see this beautiful place where we live. But I just had the thought that of both of you who went by some act of serendipity, it would just put back the cause of human rights two centuries and one guy [01:18:43] like I'm sitting here tonight. And in geographical terms, I'm not very far from the small town on the Coromandel where I spent my childhood and teenage years. [01:18:56] But sitting here hearing us sitting here in the presence of you to it's just an extraordinary distance from where I was five decades ago. [01:19:09] I was heavily involved in the homosexual or form in the late 70s. And through into the 80s. And the vitriol, the hostility, the hatred, that was just up there. And the lights at that time was just terrible. And it's been one of the things that struck me about this campaign, that it's not there to the same extent, in the public arena. Now I don't, for a moment pretend that each of you are not experiencing that you, you will have had it obviously, in the Netherlands and Lewis or I'm sure you're getting as well, because you're the figureheads for these things. So essentially why I've got the microphone is just to acknowledge each of you, and what what you personally are doing [01:20:02] your humanity. [01:20:04] And Louis or I'm aware of just the grace that you have been managing this campaign. It's just It's wonderful to be part of, and it's just a wonderful thing. This is happening in our land at this time. [01:20:24] Well, [01:20:25] we've [01:20:27] surpassed the time that we designated. [01:20:32] But I suppose if there were one last burning question for either Boris or Luis, they would entertainment. [01:20:39] See none. I would like you to thank Boris and Louisa for coming here during the traffic and [01:20:51] informing us brilliantly Thank you. [01:21:01] I believe if you'd like a cup of the light in the kitchen just went on so head over that direction. Thank you for being here. I appreciate it.

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