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Bill's defeat positive sign for human rights

Thu 8 Dec 2005 In: New Zealand Daily News

The Campaign for Civil Unions says the clear defeat of the Marriage (Gender Clarification) Bill is a positive sign for human rights in the new Parliament. Spokesperson Jeremy Lambert says the Campaign opposed the bill, put forward by United Future MP Gordon Copeland, because it would have allowed discrimination against civil union couples in favour of married couples. "The extent and breadth of political opposition to this bill should be extremely comforting for civil union supporters," he says. "However, it does illustrate why we need to remain vigilant and monitor closely extremist MPs who seek to place their views and lifestyles above others." Lambert noted that opposition to the Bill came from all sides of the House, with United Future and ACT the only parties to provide blanket support for it. "This bill was a blatant attack on same-sex couples and the civil union legislation passed last year," he says. "Ironically, it has probably had the opposite effect that its promoters had intended. During the debate MPs were clearly irate that time was being spent restating existing law and potentially providing a forum for what Katherine Rich described as ‘a bunch of banjo-playing redneck homophobes'." The Rev Dr Margaret Mayman, of Christians for Civil Unions, is also delighted that the bill has been defeated. "In the season of Christmas, we rejoice that legislation that would have discriminated against families like that of Jesus, whose mother Mary was unmarried, has no place in New Zealand society," she says. Christians for Civil Unions was an ecumenical group formed last year to support the passage of the Civil Union Act. They were concerned that sending Copeland's "legally unnecessary" to a Select Committee for further debate would have caused further harm to the minority group families who were attacked during the civil union debate. The Marriage (Gender Clarification) Bill, which radio station Newstalk ZB described as "heterosexual legislation", was defeated 74 votes to 43. Votes opposed came from Labour (49/50), Progressives (1/1), Greens (6/6), Maori Party (4/4), NZ First (2/7), and National (12/48).    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Thursday, 8th December 2005 - 12:00pm

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