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Greens worry about gay beneficiaries

Sun 29 Feb 2004 In: New Zealand Daily News

While hundreds of gay and lesbian couples wait in hopeful anticipation for the passage of civil union legislation that will allow them to be seen as equal to heterosexual couples in the eyes of the law, the Green Party is concerned about potential benefit cuts for some couples. As same-sex couples are currently not recognised, gays and lesbians are able to claim single-person benefits even if they are in a relationship, and the Green Party's Sue Bradford is concerned that with the passage of the Civil Union bill, these couples could be left in the lurch. "We believe that people need a transitional period, and it happens with other kinds of legislation as well, a time when people can make a choice about whether they really want to be on a benefit or not, about whether they really want to be in a relationship in the nature of a marriage," Bradford told Radio Pacific's Paul Henry last week. "We accept the principle that everyone should be treated the same. It's just that we know what happens when someone suddenly has their means of support ripped out from under them," she said. Bradford's argument was also given short shrift by Paul Henry during her interview, who said that taxpayers shouldn't have to fund people's indecision about whether or not they want to be in a relationship. He also felt the idea of a transitional period to be ridiculous. “Unless they're stupid people, Sue, they will be aware that the bill is going to go through and they will have to adjust their lifestyles accordingly, and they should be thinking about that right now, shouldn't they?” he said. It would appear that gays and lesbians agree. Over 97% of respondents to a poll so far have said that same-sex couples should be treated exactly the same as heterosexual couples with regard to benefits.    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Sunday, 29th February 2004 - 12:00pm

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