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Heroes and Villains of 2012: Politicians edition

Sun 30 Dec 2012 In: Features View at Wayback View at NDHA

With marriage equality coming to the fore in 2012, we have seen the very best, the very worst - and some utter ‘what the?’ - moments from our elected and unelected representatives. Who were 2012’s heroes, and who were its villains? And who are we not sure about? We usually list politicians amongst our New Year's Honours and Dishonours, but this year we're giving them an awards category all of their own. HEROES Kevin Hague, Greens. For getting it done, and done, and done. This man’s middle name should be 'Effective.' He gets things done. While it was Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill that was drawn from the ballot, not his, Kevin Hague has thrown every ounce of energy behind her. While he may be at loggerheads with Labour over the best method to push for adoption laws to be sorted out once and for all, we admire the lengthy work he has put into his own wide-ranging proposed legislation, which is now in the ballot. Hague has also had a notable year for his clear speaking and ability to cut to the heart of issues, making what others try to muddy seem utterly clear. Hone Harawira, Mana. For listening to his party's membership. This is a simple one: Kudos to Hone Harawira for listening to Mana Party faithful and voting for the marriage equality bill, despite his own conservative leanings on social issues. Tau Henare, National. For righting his wrongs. Tau Henare has always been a straight shooter, and this has sometimes led him to insert his foot firmly into his redneck mouth. In the past we have been pretty disappointed in his mocking of campaigns against the derogatory use of ‘that’s so gay’ as '(snigger) a gay story.' And his snide ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ taunt at gay Labour MP Charles Chauvel. However, this year Henare has stood up for glbti rights in Uganda, spoken out in favour of marriage equality and even pressured the Speaker to allow a marriage equality conference to be held in the Legislative Chamber of Parliament. Paul Hutchison, National. For the Speech of the Year. Anyone who was at Parliament or tuned in for the first marriage equality debate will forever remember the remarkable speech this considered and thoughtful MP gave. Paul Hutchison had earlier indicated he was going to vote against the measure. However, after what was clearly a huge amount of thought, right up until the night before the vote and after revealing that Louisa Wall had given him last-minute advice on same-sex marriage, he memorably stated: "I cannot construct a strong enough intellectual, moral, health or even spiritual argument against it." We wish all our politicians would put as much thought and integrity into the decisions they make. John Key, National. For quietly powerful leadership on an important issue John Key’s Obama-inspired change of heart on marriage equality and consequent direction to his MPs to be consistent in their voting paved the way for many National MPs to commit to voting favourably on the issue. It was timely and crucial to the cause, especially with his common-sense approach that he couldn’t see how two people of the same sex getting hitched could have any impact on his and Bronagh's marriage. Jan Logie, Greens. For standing up for the downtrodden. A new girl on the block, Jan Logie has hit the ground running, at the same frenetic pace as Louisa Wall. She’s been to Uganda and ruffled feathers taking a stand against its foul anti-gay law initiative. She’s unapologetically stood up for some of the most invisibly marginalised in our communities: transgender prisoners who are being jailed in prisons based on their sex at birth. And she has joined colleague Kevin Hague in being a passionate voice for our youth. Louisa Wall, Labour. For facing the slings and arrows of bigotry with grace. Obviously. Louisa Wall has been the most public face of the fight for marriage equality. While she is a relative newbie on the political landscape she has handled the anti-gay fools and flutterers with class and stuck to an apparent ‘out with love’ mantra – not letting herself get bitter or nasty even in the face of some putrid opposition. Wall must also be commended for the work she has done in standing up for glbti rights globally. VILLAINS Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, National. For the astonishing trifecta of blatant dishonesty, willful ignorance and blind stupidity. “Who would be the husband, and who would be the wife,” is the stupidest question we heard this year. Probably for many years. The incredibly blinkered Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, who for some reason is sitting on the committee hearing submissions on the marriage equality bill and wasting everyone’s time, also asked how gay couples could have babies: “How they are going to produce the child? They need male and female for that.” Ever hear of a marriage based on love not procreation Kanwaljit? In another lowlife moment, Bakshi bare-face lied to a Tongan church protest in Auckland, claiming that "the majority of the National Party MPs voted against this bill." Maggie Barry MP Maggie Barry, National. For showing her (true?) thorns. What ever happened to lovely Maggie from the garden show, who once earned brownie points by publicly fronting up at glbti and HIV causes? What has made her wilfully wallow in the political manure heap, most disgustingly mocking Jan Logie’s support for transgender prisoners – then ducking for cover when we tried to question her further. We hope Maggie is spending a bit of time in the garden smelling her roses and thinking about what she has done to some of those glbti folk she once walked amongst. Christopher Finlayson, National. For letting his own side down. Chris Finlayson MP Christopher Finlayson is excellent at getting Treaty settlements nailed, but when it came to the gay social issue of the year the gay MP was a major disappointment. He put off questions on how he would vote on marriage equality, downplaying its importance altogether, then voted against it and refused to explain himself to either the electorate or to his fellow gays. Utterly, self-denyingly shameful. John Hayes, National. For the most ridiculous speech of the year. The bowtie-clad John Hayes stumbled and fumbled his way through his speech at the first reading of the marriage equality bill, ran out of time, was told off and then finished “So they want me to vote against the bill,” claiming he’d listened to his constituents. He then refused to even attend a constituency debate on the issue and left Conservative party leader Colin Craig to speak against equal marriage instead. John Key, National. For playing to the baying, homophobic crowd. Sometimes he gets it right on the button as a socially progressive man of his times... then he puts on his clown face and becomes Key the Joker... dishing out a school-yard bully-boy ‘gay red top’ insult on one radio show, and having a snide mock wedding with a man in a dress on another, complete with a pat on the ass to seal the deal. Less of the mincing and mockery and more of the enlightened leading please Mr Key. The entire New Zealand First caucus. For sheep mentality. They all voted against the marriage equality bill because they were told to, so Winston Peters could make an un-related point about an un-needed referendum. Some of the NZ First MPs were in favour. And really their bloc voting was pointless anyway as the first reading passed by such a majority. Just a whole waste of time and needless puffery from Mr Peters. If Peters ambled up the ramp towards the killing chain would they follow? We suspect they would. Baaaaa. [Name withheld], [party withheld] For hypocritically dumping on those who have the courage and honesty to be openly gay. He may be closeted but nearly everyone in the house and many of us out here in the glbti community know he's gay. So we all watched with increasing disgust as he voted against marriage equality, thus giving succour to homophobes by reinforcing their unhealthy view that he and the rest of us are lesser and undesirable beings. Not everyone has the ability to be out but only a sad few go so far as to freely advocate repression of their own kind. And, yes, he isn't the first mixed-up, hypocritical, closeted MP to deny equality to their fellow gays. But by happenstance the other, even stranger, fellow currently in the house was out of the voting picture this time round. Su’a William Sio, Labour. For misrepresenting the Pacific community. Su'a William Sio's shrill and alarmist claims that marriage equality would harm Labour because Pasifika people in South Auckland are against it only served to make glbti Pasifika people feel even more marginalised and alienated. Which is may be just what he wanted. Or was he just being cowardly and trying to save his own political skin by throwing his glbti brothers and sisters out of the lifeboat? And then he proudly attended a hateful Tongan church protest where men held signs saying "Lesbi/gay copy ... animals" and illiterately described any MPs who support marriage equality as "mantally sick". staff and advisers - 30th December 2012    

Credit: staff and advisers

First published: Sunday, 30th December 2012 - 1:31am

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