Stuart Nash would like you all to know that, despite the fact that harridans like myself have
misrepresented my position – and my values
Still Concentrating On The Issues That Matter
and anyway, the post he’s
come in for a lot of flack
wasn’t actually about Louisa or the Marriage Equality Bill at all
So I apologise. When someone’s post begins talking about Louisa Wall and the Marriage Equality Bill, I assume they’re talking about Louisa Wall and the Marriage Equality Bill. But clearly, Stuart was talking
about the strategy Labour has pursued so far this year
and while you may assume that when a person starts talking about A, then starts talking about B entirely in the context of A, they’re drawing some kind of connection between A and B, you would be wrong. And you should be ashamed. Why, when Stuart starts by saying:
I want to start by saying that I support gay marriage and, if I had been in parliament, I would have had no hesitation in voting in favor of Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill. It sits perfectly with the Labour values of fairness and equality.
Despite that, I am not happy about it!
And over the next two paragraphs says
… I warned that Labour must not get sidetracked …Labour MUST NOT get sucked into the game of responding to these periphery and/or manufactured issues …
Little did I know that it wasn’t the Nats who would create the side shows … Louisa’s Bill was ill-timed … the fact that it was drawn out of the ballot was unlucky for Labour). For the past month or so this issue has been at the forefront of the mainstream and social media.
And then continues
In the meantime, the state assets sales programme is in trouble, farms have been sold to the Chinese, educationists decry the rise of charter schools, the poverty gap is increasing at an alarming rate, Kiwis are heading to Australia in record numbers, our unemployment rate is climbing, and there is at least one dreadful health story a day that should be in the papers.
Why, in that context, when I say things like
Instead, after Louisa Wall has put in the hard yards and taken shit for something in your own party’s manifesto less than a year ago, what you should really do is buy into the rightwing propaganda machine’s lines about “caring about things that matter”, and what you should really talk about is how, oh sure, a member of your party only brought us one step closer towards our egalitarian ideal, but don’t you wish she hadn’t?
I’m really just misrepresenting Stuart. He didn’t say that Louisa Wall shouldn’t have submitted her Bill, he just thinks … she shouldn’t have submitted her Bill. And he’s not buying into the idea that marriage equality isn’t important, he’s just saying it’s a peripheral sideshow issue distracting from the things that matter. And he’s not bagging her, he just feels the need to write another post talking about the “unlucky” timing of it all on top of his previous insistence that she “hold back” for The Good Of The Party.
But it’s okay, folks. Stuart has good people around him. From his second post:
Anyone that knows me, my family and my politics will know that I value human rights above all else. Equality of opportunity is my guiding philosophy and the reason why I am involved in the Labour party.
And you know that when someone says above all else, that’s a pretty strong statement indicating they won’t compromise on their core principles. Someone who values human rights above all else would never, for example, write something like:
Louisa has to hold back. The vast majority agree that her bill is morally right and should be passed into law, but now it needs to take a back seat and let the issues of health, employment, education and finance come to the fore, otherwise there won’t be anyone left in New Zealand who can afford to get married.
… just like Stuart did in his first post. I do so look forward to hearing about how finance reform will mean same-sex couples stop being treated like second-class citizens. Oh right, because they won’t be able to afford to get married. You know how the queers like to splash out on frocks, we need to avoid another recession for their sakes!
But then we are dealing with somebody who can sincerely type (in his second post):
Labour doesn’t need to convince voters that our values are sound
Which is true, because before voters can ask if your values are sound they have to know what your values are, and for someone who spends a lot of time emphasising that Labour Is A Great Party With Amazing Values And The Left
owns the political space around human rights
… Stuart sure loves acting like those values don’t mean shit unless Labour can convince voters that they are
prudent managers of the economy
… a phrase used twice in his second post.
Sorry, Stuart. I guess I’m just going to keep unwittingly misrepresenting you, because for all you’ve made a second post about how people didn’t understand your first post, all I hear is “waa waa waa shut up minorities” with a coda on the theme of “anyway we don’t need to talk about values, just the economy, so shut up again”.
And when you’re blaming a single, well-supported Private Member’s Bill for an entire party’s inability to get on the telly, you should probably reconsider your political strategy cred.
Please, Stuart. Try to dig up next time.
PS. Doesn’t it absolutely tickle you to see someone waving the Old Left banner talking about “owning political space”? Human rights discussions aren’t a commodity, Stuart. And you don’t get to “dibs” the human rights conversation, especially not when you’re saying some human rights (i.e. the icky gay ones) can go sit in the corner quietly while the real human rights issues (i.e. the ones assumed to affect Waitakere Myths) get some breathing space.
It’s lovely when the internet provides you with confirmation of your opinions. Take it away, Stu!
I want to start by saying that I support gay marriage and, if I had been in parliament, I would have had no hesitation in voting in favor of Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill. It sits perfectly with the Labour values of fairness and equality.
Despite that, I am not happy about it!
Cue then your generic “Labour should care about the issues that matter” with some wonderfully value-free “we need to focus-group everything” rhetoric in the comments:
While a party can NEVER betray its philosophies and principles, in opposition it must always look to maximise opportunities to prove to the voting public that it is on top of the issues that matter: or at least show that it understands the issues and has a plan as to how to deal with them. Only by proving competence will a party achieve electoral support (and fair enough too).
The notion that Labour, as our second largest political party, as the “main” or “major” political party of the Left, has absolutely no ability to actually influence those “issues that matter” is pretty much 90% of the problem with the party at the moment.
The idea that Labour has no power to say “Oh check it out, our economy’s in the toilet and our social services are suffering” in the face of John Key smiling and waving next to Hilary Clinton is ridiculous.
That Labour just has to jump aboard whatever bandwagon NACT is currently driving, has to parrot whatever rhetoric Paula Bennett is spewing about beneficiaries, has to “prove itself” to people. Not, by the way, in any kind of “prove we have those philosophies and principles we can never betray” way, just in a “find out what people think is important, presumably by reading the front page of Stuff, and then talk about that” way.
So you can probably look forward to Shearer’s next speech to the heartland being on the importance of Sally and Jaime Ridge to our economy.
You know how you retort to people, Stuart, when they say “ugh, gay marriage, focus on things that matter“?
You say, “It’s the luck of the ballot! Louisa put forward a bill that meant a lot to her, and in Parliament we have time put aside to consider those issues.”
You say, “New Zealand is a country that prides itself on fairness and treating people equally. I think that does matter because it affects every single policy we have. Do you think National thinks the same way, with Cabinet Ministers breaching people’s privacy and John Key getting carried around Rarotonga on a litter?”
Wait, no. That’s not reaching to the middle! Instead, after Louisa Wall has put in the hard yards and taken shit for something in your own party’s manifesto less than a year ago, what you should really do is buy into the rightwing propaganda machine’s lines about “caring about things that matter”, and what you should really talk about is how, oh sure, a member of your party only brought us one step closer towards our egalitarian ideal, but don’t you wish she hadn’t?
This is the writing of a man who was leading Shearer’s Parliamentary office. This is the attitude of someone who must have had a major role formulating Labour’s approach and tactics and messaging. And he thinks it’s a good idea to parrot rightwing key lines and undermine a great achievement by someone who in any just universe will be the future of his goddamn party.
It gets better:
Both David Clark’s $15 minimum wage bill and Clayton Cosgrove’s bill on state asset sales were both drawn in the same ballot as Louisa’s bill (how many knew this?). Both these bill’s represented headline Labour policies at the last election, and were very popular across a wide range of voters. These are prime examples of Labour concentrating on issues that matter to a significant number of good hard working Kiwis, yet many of those same struggling Kiwis have no idea that we are still fighting hard on their behalf. Both issues have, by-and-large, been lost in the mele caused by the marriage equality bill.
You know what, Stuart? The “melee” of the marriage equality bill happened because people give a shit about it. Because ordinary people on their own mobilised Facebook pages and got out there on Twitter and created hilarious memes and challenged the Conservative/Family First bullshit right where it was happening, on Facebook, in Stuff comments, on the grounds of Parliament.
People with no Party resources or history of organisation to back them up. People who cared, who found that this issue, rather than a somewhat highbrow economic discussion of minimum wage vs unemployment, rather than a bill on asset sales which seems superfluous given they’re already out there collecting signatures, was something they could really hold on to. Something that mattered to them, even the heterosexuals.
Now, sure, marriage equality had a huge advantage in terms of being part of a global discussion; if we could only get George Takei to shoot a 30-second PSA on the living wage it’d do wonders. And Gods know it’s easier to mobilise ordinary, unpoliticised people when you can say “You see that mean man Colin Craig? He hates Tamati Coffey. What a dick, right?”
But Labour is just sucking, as it has sucked for a long time, at making simple, punchy messages which engage people. And what do you do? You sit around complaining because someone’s brought more attention and mana to your party than its own leadership could manage in years. Because it doesn’t fit the Waitakere Myth, which for some reason all the straight white dudes are desperate to cling to.
Please, senior Labourites: get a fucking grip and recognise a good thing when it’s happening to you.
Also, seriously, it’s this bad now: follow Gio’s advice and hire someone like me, who’s been offering you the same advice free of charge since 2009 and here again in 2011: identity politics are not your enemy. You’re the enemy, when you alienate your natural allies and shit all over your own success, when you buy into bullshit about how recapturing The Glorious Centre is a winning strategy instead of wondering why hundreds of thousands of people saw nothing worth voting for in 2011.
Related reading: Scott Yorke at The Standard
Finance Minister Bill English, quoted on Stuff today:
deputy Prime Minister Bill English says [legalising same-sex marriage] is ”not that important” and he ”thought the problem had been solved” with civil unions.
Yes, I know, he probably meant “the problem” as in “the problem with same-sex couple relationships not getting the same legal recognition as hetero couple relationships”.
But that just means that he’s less a clumsy speaker and more an outright liar. Which is what you are if you peddle the bullshit argument that civil unions are just slightly different yet completely equal to marriages.
Forgive the tautology, but you know how I can tell that civil unions are different from marriage? (Beyond the actual obvious legal differences, e.g. being unable to adopt children as a couple).
Because civil unions exist.
If there were truly no difference, if civil unions were equivalent in social meaning and weight and importance and cultural significance, they would just be marriages.
We have civil unions precisely because enough judgemental hetero douchebags decided that scary gay people were not worthy of having what they got to take for granted.
Maybe in some future utopia there could be two distinct states, marriage vs. civil union, where the decision of a couple to pick one or the other truly came down to nothing more than personal preference, influenced by largely irrelevant historical religious/cultural/political leanings or simply an aesthetic choice on the words uttered at the ceremony.
But we, here and now, live in a society where we’ve pretty much all grown up knowing that marriage was important, marriage proved your relationship was real or permanent, marriage was the inevitable outcome of a successful falling-in-love happily-ever-after story.
And despite feminism, despite queer rights, despite that awesome divorce rate across the West (which truly shows how “sacred” and “special” the institution of marriage is), the fact is that marriage and the societal assumptions about it are still very important. Even when your partner is the same gender as you.
Back to Stuff. English, along with Joyce, then trots out the classic “it’s not a priority / it’s not the most important issue.”
Which, if we had a press gallery worth something, would immediately lead to the follow-up question, “Is the Minister saying that his Government is incapable of tying its shoes and chewing gum at the same time?”
We don’t, but we have a good start when our media start noticing that John Key, who voted against civil unions, magically comes out in carefully-worded support of at least introducing marriage equality legislation just as soon as Barack Obama says it’s cool.
Anyway, enough aggro. Louisa Wall’s bill has been drawn from the ballot. Let’s get our marriage equality on, people!
List of known MP leanings on a first reading at least – Damian O’Connor is a no, surprise surprise
For lulz, read the Conservative Party’s release on the subject, which demonstrates the Conservatives’ deep respect for the sanctity of marriage by referring to married people as “stakeholders”
Check out the Legalise Love website for more!
Since I’ve been linked to from the Herald a few times now, I feel oddly compelled to let you know up front that this one gets sweary, people. I make no apologies.
Louisa Wall and Colin Craig appeared on Q&A to discuss the marriage equality / adoption equality issue.*
Colin Craig’s statements were, happily, entirely illustrative of his bullshit, unjustifiable stance on the topics (his refusal to answer the question “do you respect members of the gay community who want this” especially so):
SHANE Colin Craig, do you support one law for all?
MR CRAIG I support equal rights and privileges for all New Zealanders.
SHANE One law for all, though?
MR CRAIG Yeah, I don’t like that phrase, but equal rights and privileges for New Zealanders.
SHANE So why do you support one law for heterosexuals and one law for homosexuals?
MR CRAIG Well, look, I agree with civil unions. … What we’re talking about here is who has the right to use and define the word “marriage”, and I believe there’s a status quo. We’ve got generation after generation, marriage has been between and a woman, and that is what I believe the New Zealanders want. They’ve got cultural investment in this, historical investment in this, religious investment in this.
So Colin basically thinks New Zealanders should have equal rights and privileges, except for the heteros who get exclusive domain of the word “marriage”. Which is apparently simultaneously a minor, piffling matter, but also vitally important to our cultural identity. (And remember, it’s those scary queer people who want “special” rights!)
One hates to invoke anecdata, but you know? I can’t think of a single married couple I know who thought “shit yeah, getting a bit of paper that The Gays can’t get really shows how strong our relationship is!”
MR CRAIG The only difference here is the word “marriage”. I mean, we’re not talking about an issue of equality across other things.
Colin Craig, you are a fucking liar. Or a complete, ignorant numpty. Possibly both. I’m going with both.
A Civil Union is not recognised in the same way as a marriage out of New Zealand. If you wish to be legally recognised as Civil Unions partners in another country, you would have to apply in the country you wish to live in, if they have this law.
Civil Union partners do not at present have the right to adopt a child
Bonus objectifying language from Colin for the win:
There are a number of homosexuals who take a different view.
I imagine him pronouncing it the way Mr Gormsby does.
But here’s the bit I wanted to address specifically:
MR CRAIG OK, I support the existing law. … Now, I actually think – and it’s my opinion – I actually think there are difference between a man and a woman. I actually think that when we get to choose the environment in which a child grows up, to have both a male and female role model, a mum and a dad is the ideal, and therefore I do support that restriction.
And please pardon the unladylike nature of the next sentence:
FUCK YOU, COLIN CRAIG. ON BEHALF OF ALL THE MEN WHO STOOD AS MALE ROLE MODELS FOR ME IN MY CHILDHOOD, FUCK. YOU.
It’s obvious enough that Colin Craig is talking absolute shit when he equates “having a male and female role model” with “a mum and dad” – and that’s even if we pass by the wonderfully archaic gender essentialism, the indignant “well I actually think boys and girls are different” defence.
But fuck, this fucks me right off.
Y’see, folks, the man responsible for ejaculating in my mother’s vague direction at an optimal ovulation point wanted sweet fuck all to do with me (probably also the fault of gay people undermining the Sanctity Of The Family or something). So he fucked off.
Now, apparently this spells immediate Becoming Another Child Abuse / Teen Pregnancy / Drug Use Statistic for the infant Queen of Thorns – after all, no dad, no Male Role Model to keep her straight and narrow, straight being the most important bit.
(Of course, infant Queen of Thorns having been assigned gender “female” at birth probably means Male Role Models Aren’t As Important For Her or something, but bear with me.)
Patriarchal wankoffs like Colin Craig want to pretend that my upbringing, sans one out of two gamete-donors, must have been immediately disadvantaged, a permanent stain on my psyche. My mother remaining single is, after all, only marginally better than my mother taking up with another woman, which must have scarred me irreparably.
But hang on.
Who are those guys over there?
Why look, it’s my grandfather, who among other things imbued me with a love of science fiction and an allergy to terrible puns. It’s my uncle, who has exactly my sense of humour. My stepdad, whose strict regimen of Culturally Important Experiences (largely involving classic films and NZ music of the 70s) allow me to make obscure references no one else my age gets to this day. And all the other men in our extended family and community who each stood as another example of What Men Are Like and How Men May Act and who, bygiving a shit about my welfare and growth, did a fuckload more for me than Mr Sperm Donor Fuckhead did before he vanished from my life.
Basically, male role models? I had fucking plenty. And most of them were pretty kickass, and, sorry, Colin, most of them made significant contributions to the sweary, ranty, righteous, fuck-you-I-won’t-do-what-you-tell-me personality you see before you today.
The idea that my mother, in some parallel universe, hooking up with a woman at any point after my arrival (and, tragically, having some kind of deep and committed relationship!!!!) would somehow have denied me these important relationships is complete. Fucking. Bullshit.
And I love my mum, but the idea that she was somehow my Only Possible Female Role Model is likewise bullshit. (Especially given the dominance of women in New Zealand teaching and early childhood education.)
The idea that in some pseudo-1950s Golden Age, I would have automatically been better off either (a) being raised by parents forced to marry following my conception or (b) being taken from my mother and raised by a complete different grab-bag of people … is complete. Fucking. Bullshit.
And let’s be honest here, when people start talking about “traditional family values” or “returning to a better time”, that’s what they mean. Oh, they will protest, no, we just meant the good parts of a fantasy past where all marriages were completely permanently perfect and all pregnancies completely safe and wanted. But ain’t it just like fundy fuckstains to pretend that their utopia is completely unproblematic?
Children are not raised in a vacuum, in which emotional or psychological development can only be performed by Female Parental Unit A and Male Parental Unit B. And it is fucking insulting to all the people out there who do play roles in the lives of children who they don’t even own – because that’s what this is about at its core, classic, ancient, patriarchal “rraaaa! My bloodline must be propagated to prove my virility! Behold the children I claim to show the power of my wang! Rrraaa!” – to act like if you don’t get called Mummy or Daddy you may as well go home.
If I could take my childhood over again I would not change one fucking thing, Colin. Because I fail to see what Mr Deadbeat Fuckhead could have done to make me any more awesome than I am today.
In my heart of hearts, I’m deeply hoping for a “maybe he would’ve given you a damn good spanking and turned you into more of a lady!” response. Please don’t disappoint me.
Louisa Wall’s Private Member’s Bill on marriage equality is now out – huzzah! Check out the link to NRT for the pdf.
However, before it came out, I was a little concerned about this statement, also reported at NRT, from David Cunliffe:
… Louisa Wall is arranging a Marriage Equality member’s bill which progresses human rights while protecting existing religious freedoms.
Emphasis my own. NRT provided some legal smackdown of this [happily uneventuated] idea – whatever form it may have taken – but even though we now know we’re in the clear for the time being, I wanted to address this whole embarrassing derail on its own.
First up: it’s a seriously embarrassing derail. Like I’ve covered, marriage-as-recognised-by-the-state has sweet fuck all to do with religion, except in its origins. Marriages don’t have to take place in a religious site. Marriages don’t have to have the authorised representative of any particular sky-father or earth-mother present. Marriage does not have to involve any acknowledgement of any supernatural, spiritual or non-legal ritual concepts whatsoever.
Marriage, as far as our Department of Internal Affairs is concerned, involves two people of different sexes, plus state-recognised celebrant, plus witnesses, plus paperwork, saying:
“I AB take you, CD, to be my legal wife/husband” or words to similar effect.
That’s basically it.
So when two angry internet atheists who devote half their free time to creating hilarious Flying Spaghetti Monster macros and filing injunctions against the teaching of creationism decide to get state recognition of their rutting, guess whose religious freedoms are imposed upon? Oh right, no one’s. Because no one is forced to officiate anyone’s marriage. No church or temple is forced to let them make a booking. No synagogue kitchen is forced to let their caterers prepare pig on a spit.
So what fucking difference is it going to make if those two atheists are both men, or both women, or both genderqueer?
Oh right, it’s not.
It’s the second thing: giving bigots legislative excuses for their bigotry.
As Idiot/Savant has stated, you know what? Marriage celebrants who hate The Gays will probably make it abundantly clear and thus not be put in any position where they are compelled to perform the marriage. Just like how racist fuckheads who are currently marriage celebrants can currently turn away interracial couples – and even though said action might be entirely illegal because of that pesky Bill of Rights we have, I think we all know how easily that gets circumvented. Maybe the celebrant is just “too busy”, or “they’re taking a break” or they happen to innocuously have a White Pride flag on the roof of their car.
The point is, we don’t have marriage legislation saying “You are allowed to turn away interracial couples if being a racist asshat is so important to you.”
And we shouldn’t have it when we grant marriage equality to people in non-binary-conforming relationships.
Because it has only two purposes:
1) Make religious people – predominantly the vocal fundy Christian minority who like to put themselves centre-stage on every issue – feel like they’re super-important, the foundation of our society, far more influential than they have any right to be;
2) Protect them from the consequences of their bigotry. It’d be like appending “and also no one can call out your bullshit if you’re Paul Henry” to the right to freedom of speech.
If you want to be a kyriarchal douchebag, and that just isn’t so acceptable in our culture any more, and someone says “Wow, you won’t marry a same-sex couples? What a douche” then you can take it like a fucking adult. I mean, you’re the one with all the certainty, the one who knows that what you’re doing is good and correct and God’s work, right? So what does it matter to you if people think you’re a dick?
Why, basically, do you need a bit of paper from the state – the state which clearly doesn’t give a toss about your views on what constitutes marriage and hasn’t for years – so you can wave it in people’s faces and say “SHUT UP, MY BIGOTRY IS OKAY, THE LAW SAYS SO!”
I mean, you’ve already got freedom of religion. And some of us quite like how that gives us freedom from religion. Which is why the state doesn’t limit marriage to only the people the Pope or whoever says are proper married.
Oh look, we’ve come full circle.
Now, we were discussing this on Twitter and the point was made by Lew that hey, if the Bill is 99% good we can probably handle the 1% bad, and would this kind of provision protecting religious bigots really have much effect on non-het marriages? Like I said above, it’s not like non-het couples will have difficulty identifying the bigoted celebrants.
And I can kind of get behind that. But my immediate concern – and maybe I’ve just been watching too much West Wing recently – is that religious fundies are not a group known for their ability to compromise. I’m sure they’ll happily take a little favour, a little cushion to cover their asses while spreading the
hate love of Jesus around the world, but please, David C, anyone else out there, let’s not pretend for a fucking second that these people are going to offer you any other kind of support, votes or otherwise, until the next time they want to wrangle another concession out of you.
It’s not actually anything to do with the social good of promoting freedom of religion, and it’s not actually anything to do with making our sloooooooow transformation into a truly openminded, progressive country any easier on the resistant throwbacks. It’s about undermining progress at every step, leaving loopholes and back doors for them to slip more regressive, life-destroying crap into our cultural consciousness any chance they get.
Don’t give into their crap now – and like I’ve just explained above, it is crap – in the hopes they’ll give up anything they didn’t already know they were going to.
NB: I am in full agreement with the ever-so-clever Amanda on using the phrase “marriage equality” instead of “gay marriage” and will be using such in future.