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Sun 29 Aug 2004 In: Features

If you think our MPs are paid too much, you may think again after the following, which represents the 'best' of ten hours worth of anti-civil union petitioning at Auckland's Justice and Electoral Select Committee hearing on Monday 23 August. Some of the submissions really have to be seen to be believed for their sheer gall and imagination. To that end, has instigated the first in an occasional series of Cameron Awards, named in honour of discredited American junk scientist and Maxim Institute research source Paul Cameron, ostracised widely by the psychological and social scientific community twenty years ago for telling blatant lies about homosexuals. Most award ceremonies are annual because there is only a finite amount of recipients worthy of recognition. But in these crazy times, when the Maxim Institute can publicly claim that 52 is the same as 150 (*), we can reassure you that we have an infinite supply of Cameron Awards boxed up and ready to be presented. Before we count down the top ten to the Supreme Cameron Award, we should note some of the choicer but unplaced arguments presented by submitters against civil unions on Monday: (Cue: tinkly, gushy background music) - Teen suicide will be caused by gay parents' "new and strange relationship;" - Gay and lesbian lifestyles are prone to disease; - Teachers will end up indoctrinating children; - People in long-term gay and lesbian relationships have, on average, six other partners (at the same time); and the classic... - Marriage doesn't discriminate – gays and lesbians are as free as heterosexuals to marry someone of the opposite sex! But let's get down to the nitty-gritty with our top ten countdown to craziness: 10. ANDREA! Andrea is a schoolteacher with history on her side. According to her, having civil unions will lead to all sorts of Greek and Roman debauchery. In fact we're already halfway there – she says David McNee was one of two men murdered recently for molesting young boys. 9. MERCY CHRISTIAN CENTRE! Rather than spending time helping the poor and needy, this brand of Christians seem to think time is better spent trying to block legislation that will protect other citizens. Marriage transcends legal and cultural boundaries, civil unions are indistinguishable from marriage, and there's no popular mandate for a law change they say. OK – so what's actually wrong with the legislation again? 8. MICHAEL! Batten down the hatches! The Government is openly hostile to marriage, and they're trying to legislate to protect certain lifestyle choices, sayeth Mike. Openly hostile? We must have missed the press release about repealing the Marriage Act, could someone send us a copy? 7. SHAUN REYNOLDS! This guy said both the Civil Union and Relationships Bills should be thrown out in order to assert the superiority of heterosexual sex. Heterosexual sex is all about procreation, whereas legitimising same-sex relationships will only lead to paedophilia and polygamy. 6. CHUCK BIRD! An American and compulsive NZ Herald letter-writer, Mr Bird was warmly welcomed by MP Lianne Dalziel, who said she hadn't seen him since 1993 (when he appeared before a Select Committee to protest at homosexuals being included in the Human Rights Act). HIV, AIDS and STDs will all be on the increase if civil unions go through, reckons Chuck. This will give a public stamp of approval to gay lifestyles, which are a choice and not inherent. 5. VISION NETWORK! A Christian-based group that attempted to illustrate the difference between "rights" and "righteousness". They reiterated the now-familiar theme that civil unions will lead to incest and bigamy, ending with the charming notion that "God does not hate queers". 4. MURRAY PEACHY! Someone phone John Tamihere quick! Red-blooded heterosexuals should cover their bums and run for the hills, if Mr Peachy's assertion is correct – he says that civil unions will have people opting out of marriage to enter into gay relationships. (Can I have first dibs on the first str8 All Black to opt out? Anyone who's played a test in the last 15 years would be ok with me - Ed.) 3. JACQUELINE WILES! Familiar to readers already as the former pipe-smoking, bus-driving lesbian who turned straight after finding Jesus. She appeared last year in a Sunday Star-Times expose about “ex-gays” that was so unbalanced you had to turn the newspaper upside down in order to read it. Jacqueline says she has been relieved of her compulsive needs, and reckons civil unions will lead to increased levels of homosexuality. She also says Gaylines actively recruit people into the lifestyle – we didn't know they'd started making outcalls! What gives, guys? 2. MARK PAGE! In an inexplicable and entertaining submission, Mr Page quoted lyrics from the 1989 When The Cat's Away hit single Melting Pot, ending with the immortal assertion that society must be protected "from the scourge of porridge." A great entry Mark, but not quite good enough to take the Supreme Cameron Award. DRRRRRRUM RRRRRRROLL!!!!! AND THE SUPREME WINNER IS... NEIL WHITEHEAD! Move over Paul Cameron, Neil is in da house! Neil submitted in Wellington about a week ago and his fibs trump everyone else's thus far. On the topic of civil unions, Whitehead said "this legislation would be child abuse", because of the trauma children would be put through by being in a same-sex household. Kids in these situations would "almost be guaranteed" to suffer through a divorce because of unstable gay relationships, would be ""quite likely" to suffer bereavement due to a gay partner dying of AIDS within ten years, would suffer through increased exposure to "mentally unstable and alcoholic households", and that gay and lesbian people are not "born that way". Along the way, he misrepresented and misquoted AIDS statistics and other social scientific data to such an extent that he could very well have been liable for perjury had he been under oath. His misinterpretation of an Australian twin study led the author of the research, Associate Professor Michael Dunne of the Queensland University of Technology, to reply to the Select Committee personally noting the factual errors in Whitehead's submission, and to label it a “distorted caricature of existing knowledge that lacks depth and complexity”. In addition, he noted that Whitehead's qualifications were not anything to do with sexuality or genetic research, but “almost entirely in geological and nuclear science” – something Whitehead omitted to mention in his submission. God help anyone silly enough to use this guy as a source of research. Congratulations, Neil – you are the Supreme Winner of the current crop of Cameron Awards. As soon as we work out what to give you, we'll be in touch (suggestions from readers welcome). Some closing thoughts before we all rush off to the post-awards turps-fest... Submissions made to the Committee were four-to-one against the legislation being passed, but when you consider that those submissions are of the quality described above, it's akin to the lunatics attempting to take over the asylum. The number of “against” submissions is unsurprising given that those opposed to the Bills are a highly motivated group, largely representative of a small sect of Christianity, while the gays and lesbians who will be affected are a small subset of the population as diverse as the apathetic/oppressed/motivated masses. However, of all the submissions “against”, not one could state how civil unions would affect them personally. By contrast, submissions “for” presented the Committee with the face of New Zealanders who will be personally affected by civil unions – for the better. The opposition couldn't compete with personal stories of discrimination and hardship, some of which had committee members reaching for the Snowtex. Against these presentations of reality, the opposition – especially after ten hours – began to sound like a stuck record. *In an opinion piece published in the New Zealand Herald on 3 October, Maxim claimed that The New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective receives $150,000 a month from taxpayers.In fact, the NZPC gets a little over $52,000 per month to run 6 offices around the country. Chris Banks - 29th August 2004    

Credit: Chris Banks

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

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