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Louisa’s transparent agenda

Sat 1 Dec 2012 In: Features View at Wayback View at NDHA

Louisa Wall It was pretty special to see Louisa Wall amongst former MPs who have bitten the bullet and taken on the bigots by pushing through legislation for our benefit. But one who knows the worst of our society also had a message: we need to have Louisa’s back. The opening of the National Marriage Equality Conference in Wellington was in the rather illustrious Legislative Council Chamber at Parliament. It also came with a rather illustrious panel: Fran Wilde, Katherine O’Regan and Tim Barnett: three former MPs who between them led the charges on Homosexual Law Reform, protections under the Human Rights Act, Prostitution Law Reform and Civil Unions. Labour MP Louisa Wall, whose marriage equality legislation has passed its first reading and is hopefully on its way to being passed, rounded out the panel. She expressed some hesitation about being in the line-up, simply because as a former Silver Fern and Black Fern she knows the game isn’t won until the final whistle blows – and her legislation still has two hurdles to jump. However she took the chance to assert a few things about her battle, especially confronting opponents such as Family First who have tried to make what is really a simple law change seem confusing and messy. One of the issues they have been harping on about has been their fear ministers would be prosecuted if they refused to marry gay couples – something that has gay couples across the country scratching their heads: who would want to be joined with the person they love by some hoary minister who despises them?! In any case, legal opinion has been mixed on the issue and the select committee hearing the marriage equality legislation is making sure it gets to the bottom of it – requesting a Law Society opinion, which recommends it clearly spells out in the legislation that ministers will be able to refuse to marry whoever they like. Wall told the opening of the National Marriage Equality Conference that groups like Family First are trying to run an agenda that “this is so complicated that we can’t progress,” when what is being fought for is actually very simple: marriage is about two people who love each other and want to commit to each other. “From the beginning we have had a really transparent agenda that we don’t want to upset what currently happens. I will fight for the right for our religious leaders to believe what they believe and to marry who they want,” she clearly stated. Wall said the select committee seems to accept that something will have to be done to strengthen the legislation to confirm this is the case. Louisa Wall, Fran Wilde, Katherine O'Regan and Tim Barnett Fran Wilde, who suffered death threats and vile insults from a “lunatic fringe” when she led the Homosexual Law Reform charge, made a special plea for the community to ensure it supports Wall, especially in her electorate of Manurewa where media reports make it seem like the entire Polynesian population is against her. Wilde urges Aucklanders to attend rallies and events against Wall’s legislation and stand up for her, and just make it clear she has a community behind her. While Wall is clearly pretty tough and tried to brush Wilde’s concerns off, they obviously struck a chord. However she responded by saying that while it may seem like the church-going Pacific community is against her, there are many in South Auckland who have privately told her they respect her bravery. “We love our takataapui whanau, we love our fa’afafine whanau,” she was told by people who approached her on a visit to Otara Markets on Saturday. “You’re being so brave, we support you, well done,” they said, thanking her. “I think there is a misconception that the Pacific community do not support this bill,” she said, thanking Wilde for her concerns. “I don’t feel like I’m isolated. But I also don’t feel like I’m brave. I mean, did you feel like you were brave?” she asked Wilde and O’Regan, who both shook their heads vigorously and smiled. Wall added: “We do what we do, because it is the right thing to do.” And Fran Wilde, Katherine O’Regan and Tim Barnett all nodded their heads. Jacqui Stanford - 1st December 2012    

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Saturday, 1st December 2012 - 9:58am

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