This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 18 April 2013.
I’m typing this post up, just as Louisa Wall’s Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill has been made law by a 77-40-something vote. (I may also have been drinking a liiiiiiiiiittle bit of cider.)
And I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I have to ask: what’s next?
Jami-Lee Ross made comments about our abortion laws in his speech – which is fantastic, because it says he doesn’t fear the word. But he talked about it being decriminalized – and it isn’t, really. Do we dare go there?
And as Steve Grey spelled out in his recent post here, there’s a lot m0re going on for queer/LGBT/QUILTBAG folk in NZ than just the right to marry.
Marriage equality means we’ve finally recognised in law that same-sex two-person relationships are equal to heterosexual two-person relationships. But what about poly people? What about genderqueer people who don’t want to be assigned to one of two categories? And what about the continuing violence and oppression and consequent self-harm of our young queer people?
In Parliament tonight, MPs spoke about takataapui, about transgender people no longer being forced to divorce, about intersex people. There’s a lot more issues out there, and being able to call yourself a bride (because contrary to popular fundy bigot belief, a lot of queer people do use words like wife and husband and bride and groom) is just one step on the path to really accepting allthe wonderful and diverse loving relationships that New Zealanders are involved in.
Tonight, I’m drinking celebratory cider. Tomorrow, we need to take the next steps.
I highly recommend lprent’s post on the best speeches so far at The Standard, and would add Mojo Mathers’, which seriously made me cry.
Lew has a great post up at Kiwipolitico about Recognising your enemy, following the passage of marriage equality in NZ. He quotes Kevin Hague MP’s third reading speech, which I shall in turn borrow (this is what we liberals call “giving credit”, Mr McCoskrie):
Over the years I have campaigned hard for the right of our communities to not be outsiders any more, to assume a full place in New Zealand society. With every new reform, the same group uses the same strategy, raising fears of terrible consequences which always fail to materialise.
In the case of marriage equality and queer rights in general, the same strategy usually boils down to “scaremonger about some slippery slope” – the Marry My Dog strategy (Stephen Franks) or the Mormons Will Marry All Your Daughters strategy (McCoskrie).
But exactly the same principle applies to a subject near and dear to my heart: reproductive rights. Because it’s exactly the same. The same old enemies with the same old arguments threatening the same old downfall of society.
And as Lew’s post suggests, recognising our enemy and his (invariably, inevitably his) strategy is a very important step to take. Add to that, I think exposing that strategy is an important point – saying to people “look, there’s Colin Craig, last time he was in the news he said you’d get locked up for giving your kid a dirty look, and he was completely off the mark on that one, wasn’t he?” and demonstrating again and again that, on pretty much every progressive battlefront, we are up against opportunistic lying scumbags who can’t handle anyone making different life choices to them.
So today, I want to highlight the enemy in the reproductive rights struggle – and the queer rights struggle. Because this is about Right to Zygote Life’s press release on the passage of marriage equality. Same enemy, people.
What they tried to hide during the marriage equality debate was the essential fundamentalist Christian bigotry behind their arguments. Note all the talk about “traditional values”, and “history”, and “culture”, and very little about the Bible or Jesus (who incidentally had fuck-all to say on the subject).
In this increasingly secular, open-minded society, it is imperative for the fundies to distance themselves from the religious prejudice which is the foundation of everything they say and do.
But sometimes they slip up.
So here it is: RTL’s response to marriage equality, a topic somewhat outside their usual purview. In a single press release they manage to mention God no fewer than eight times in a total of 406 words (counting capitalised masculine pronouns, God is 2.5% of the release). They explicitly state that sex should only be for procreation, they give a shout-out to the Culture of Death (still, sadly, not a thrash metal band), they still aren’t over people taking the Pill.
The twist is that, having failed on multiple occasions to make us all believe that hurricanes, earthquakes and drought are God’s punishment for our sins, they’ve now decided that homosexuality itself is the divine judgement upon us. Which is a little circular, but we are dealing with people who also haven’t caught up with in vitro fertilisation.
The widespread acceptance of homosexuality could be God’s punishment on society. The challenge for society is a renewed commitment to marriage as instituted by God. We have sown the wind we are now reaping the whirlwind.
I look forward to high-fiving the first gay porn producer who manages to work “Reap my whirlwind” into a script.
But I’m getting a little off-topic. The point is this: you and I ranty liberal bloggy types already knew full well that opposition to every progressive development of the last 50 years has come from an increasingly irrelevant, diminishing branch of extremist Christianity. In the next battle, let’s shout it from the rooftops.
Human rights issues for queer, trans and intersex people in New Zealand
Early next year New Zealand will appear before other countries at the United Nations (UN) for its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR). They will question NZ about its overall human rights performance.
The voices of community groups are a vital part of this process. The Human Rights Commission is currently holding some workshops around the country about how to use the UPR process (and reporting against UN Conventions) to profile the issues important to your communities. More details about the UPR process and these workshop dates are on the Commission’s website here:http://www.hrc.co.nz/international-human-rights-new/faqs-for-upr-1314
Using the UPR process to focus on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex issues
The Commission has organised a follow-up meeting for people wanting to make UPR submissions on intersex, sexual orientation and/or gender identity issues.
Thursday, April 18, 6-7.30pm, Level 1, Vector House, 44 The Terrace, Wellington
This is an event run by the Human Rights Commission. Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley would like to provide support our local community to attend. Our LGBTIQ team staff members Kate and Rosie will be attending and we would love to see you there.
Full details at On a long enough timeline, everything changes
H/T somebody on Twitter.
Jessie Rose Foote, the daughter of two people who made horrible and deeply personal comments about her orientation while arguing against marriage equality, has now had her side of the story told in the Herald.
Under a different byline, one notes.
And Jessie sounds like a damn lovely person.
Despite it all she said she still loved her parents very much.
“Of course, I’d like more than anything to still be in their lives like I was. It’s just sad that, through their interpretation of the Bible, they’ve had to take such a stand,” she said.
Jesse Foote, did, however, admire her dad for standing up for what he believed in.
“I just wish he believed in something that wasn’t condemning my lifestyle. It is just heartbreaking that these strong religious beliefs have to come above everything, even family, and cause such division.”
If he was willing, she’d gladly resume their father-daughter relationship.
Despite the rift, Foote, the middle child of five, said she made sure her 11-year-old daughter visited her parents regularly.
“They’re not bad people and I want my daughter to go there because I think it’s important for her. They are, after all, her grandparents.”
Suffice it to say … I would not be so magnanimous. So all kudos and warm fuzzies to Jessie.
None to “journalist” Kathryn Powley – or, perhaps, the douchebag sub-editor who chose to put this little summary at the top of the article:
Conservative stance pits parents against lesbian daughter.
Um, it’s not a “conservative stance”, it’s labelling her entire life as “evil”. And she’s not just a “lesbian daughter”, she’s a parent, too, in a committed civil union. But expressing “Homophobic bigotry pits douchebags against an independent woman they still seem to think they own” wouldn’t give us the same “middle NZ vs scary radicals with buzzcuts” vibe, would it now?
Congratulations to the Herald for finding its ethics. Boo hiss for losing them again practically immediately.
I suppose the Herald should be congratulated for trying to find balance in this article on marriage equality. Two sets of parents with wildly different reactions to their child’s sexual orientation, looking at the marriage equality issue from both sides …
But I don’t think they really thought this one through.
Sue and Wayne Bennett of Ngaruawahia are super-supportive of their son, Tim. Tim is quoted as saying
“I was really scared of coming out because I could see from TV how people might react, but I actually found when I came out that the bullying stopped and I was accepted for who I was,”
His mother Sue is quoted as saying
“It was a celebration when Tim came out because we could all actually be honest with each other. We could support him and share stories with him and just enjoy being part of his world.”
By comparison, David and Penelope Foote of Whangarei are super-not-supportive of their daughter, who is unnamed. Their daughter is quoted as saying
Her mother is quoted as saying
the discovery that she was in a same-sex relationship was “the most traumatic thing we have ever been through”.
“It’s the result of abuse she has suffered [with men],” she said.
And if that right there doesn’t tell you which side in this debate is about compassion and empathy and which side is full of judgey haters, I don’t know what will.
There’s just one big question. Does David and Penelope’s daughter even know that her orientation – and, this being New Zealand, her identity – has just been used by her parents to make prejudiced bullshit statements in one of the country’s major newspapers?
Supplementary: Did the Herald even give enough of a fuck about this unnamed woman to check if she was okay with her privacy being shredded by parents who it seems like she’s not even talking to any more?
Dean Knight, writing for the Herald, makes what I would consider a fairly uncontentious point: yes, it would be lovely if people’s sexual orientations didn’t matter and no one cared, but the fact is our society still does treat heterosexuality as normal and everything else as aberrant, and people do care. His case in point is the All Blacks. Sure, you can argue that the sexuality of any individual All Black shouldn’t matter, but then they’d have to stop doing underwear commercials and selling their wedding pictures to the Woman’s Weekly, and that would probably be the killing blow to the New Zealand economy.
Oh, he also notes rugby culture in general might be just a tad homophobic.
Cue the outrage in the comments, which I do not recommend reading unless you’re feeling particularly in need of eye-rolling exercise or bitter cackling. It’s almost like the Herald’s online commenters didn’t actually read the piece, the way so many jump in to say “but it shouldn’t matter if an All Black is gay!”
Yes, my dears, but don’t you dare sit there acting like it doesn’t.
That’s just ironic. It’s the ones who start in on the blatant (oh but it’s just a FACT, you know) homophobia who will rob you of valuable warm feelings towards your fellow New Zealanders.
The big upside is that Knight makes some really key points about how rugby institutions have to be open-minded and accommodating for players who don’t fit the hetero blokey mold, and gives examples of how athletes from other codes have navigated playing-manly-sport-while-gay. And he got published in the NZ Herald while doing so.
Would be nice if the Herald showed the most basic modicum of commonsense comment moderation though.
The beautiful irony of this entire post, though, is the hat-tip I must now give. See, I don’t really read the Herald at all (though if I want online NZ news, it is marginally better than Stuff, though that’s not difficult.)
So I would never have seen this article were it not for the efforts of men’s defender and friend of Ideologically Impure, kiwi_prometheus. Had k_p not been so offended by the notion of a gay All Black that he just had to bring it up at The Standard, so outraged, so flabberghasted that anyone could question the tumescent, masculine heterosexuality of the All Blacks … well, this post couldn’t have happened without him.
In the words of Atheist Pinko Sluts Monthly, where do I sign up?
Annex Your Uterus Life is at it again, now badgering poor Tony Ryall in an effort to stop Family Planning from getting their satanic hands on your precious, sanctified taxpayer dollars.
Their primary reason, as always, is that Family Planning commits the iniquitous crime of helping pregnant people who don’t want to be pregnant stop being pregnant.
But then there’s sex education. The winning quote:
The NZFPA is part of the sex education lobby that is systematically undermining traditional morality and is aggressively promoting an ideology of lustful sexual licence while pretending to be concerned only with the health and safety of young people.
Remember, if Family Planning really cared about the “health and safety of young people” they would be ignoring all reason, research and reality, and telling them “don’t have sex, it’s bad! If you ever have sex except in the ways Ken Orr has approved of, you DIE!!!!”
Because that approach has historically ensured there is no sex out of wedlock, no unplanned pregnancies, and no abortion, EVER.
But Right to
Burn You At The Stake Life has done their homework this time. They’ve uncovered Family Planning’s real agenda: forcing women into same-sex sexual relationships which degrade them.
It’s all encoded in a secret Family Planning document, entitled Keeping it safe, which expert symbologists will instantly recognise as an archaic slogan of the Illuminati used on documentation which is of the highest importance to the plans of our lizard-people overlords.
Ken Orr has valiantly risked his own sanity, nay his own life, to read this vile, blasphemous tome of eldritch cunnilinguistic lore, and he warns the Minister of Health thusly:
The guide is amoral, and promotes unnatural and degrading sexual practices that denigrate the dignity of women.
Now I, as a rampant slut, may read the dread words of Family Planning at a whim, and I can confirm Ken Orr’s statements. Keeping it safe contains noisome statements of utter perversion such as:
Talking about sex can be embarrassing for many women, but it’s essential in checking out what is safe and comfortable, physically and emotionally.
Be clear about what you want, and how far you want to go with any activity and value yourself enough to stick to that. The only way to know for sure if someone has given consent is if they tell you. Check out what your sexual partner wants. Be aware of her body language. Include checking if she is comfortable as part of your sex talk – a whispered “Is this ok?” or “Do you want to go further?” – can be very sexy. Stop if she says it’s not ok.
There are some things you can do to make your sex safer and to ensure that you care for your own and your partner’s health and well being.
Woe betide the dignity of women whose innocent eyes should pass over such wretched text!
Oh, fine. They do also talk about fisting. Slow, gentle, consensual fisting.
… Seriously, though. Don’t you feel so sorry for the poor admin person in Tony Ryall’s office who has to open this crap? “Any mail today?” “No, sir, just another screed from Ken Orr.” “Any laughs in it?” “Oh, culture of death, something about lesbians. I filed it in the circular bin.” “You’re doing fine work. Take an early break if you need to.”
Related reading: AlisonM at The Hand Mirror
Members of the Defence Force will march in uniform in the Auckland Pride Parade next month.
The Defence Force’s Overwatch group – a peer support network for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members – has signed up for the parade.
Nicely done, Defence Force.
Labour MP Su’a William Sio has come out against Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill, with the usual “why aren’t we focusing on more important issues” (sorry Sio, didn’t realise you can’t read a book and chew gum at the same time) and “this will cost Labour!!!!” lines.
For a start, Idiot/Savant has actual research showing that Maaori/Pasifika folk may be more likely than us whiteys to support marriage equality. Oops.
But in the main, the thing that pisses me off is his trotting out the usual crap about “fundamental beliefs”.
Because when anyone arguing from a fundy religious position starts citing their beliefs as an argument against offering other people – people who do not share those beliefs – access to healthcare, access to protection under the law, recognition of their basic human rights – all that says is “My personal religious beliefs should be imposed on everyone.”
All it says is that fundy religious people think they deserve special rights.
“Hang on!” they inevitably cry. “Aren’t YOU imposing YOUR beliefs on ME by doing something which affects other people who don’t share my beliefs?”
The answer is: No, fuckwits.
Take the case in point. If we legally recognise same-sex marriages the way we recognise hetero marriages, this does not affect Su’a William Sio in the slightest. It doesn’t downgrade his marriage to economy class, it doesn’t stop him from doing anything he already does, it doesn’t force him to do anything he doesn’t choose to do.
(There’s a side argument about whether or not marriage celebrants, as agents of the state, have the right to discriminate, but I’ll let Idiot/Savant take that one.)
How does this force anyone else’s morality on Su’a William Sio? Well, it means that he’s not allowed to walk the streets accosting gay couples shouting “YOUR RELATIONSHIP ISN’T AS LEGALLY-RECOGNISED AS MINE, HAHAHAHAHAHA.”
Actually, he probably would be allowed to do that, within obvious pre-existing legal limits around assault and illegal detention.
So … how does legalising marriage equality affect Su’a William Sio’s rights and morals? Oh, because there’s a vague sense of unease amongst religious fundies about the gays. Though no concrete evidence has yet been found, they just know that marriage equality is wrong and will lead to the downfall of nations. Any day now.
No one’s personal morality is challenged or threatened by marriage equality unless they’re so fucking attached to homophobic bigotry that it pains them to be told “Sorry, society’s moved on.” And I just cannot summon much sympathy for their plight.
Meanwhile, loving, caring, committed couples are denied equal rights under the law because a Court of Appeal judge said so back in the day. They can’t even adopt the children they’re raising as their own.
That’s forcing your morals on people, douchebags.
(And like I said in comments at The Standard: No one is standing in Su’a William Sio’s way if he wants to go out there and “focus” on the “things that really matter” to religious South Aucklanders. Off you go, mate. Unless it’s just easier to build up bigot-cred hating on the hard work of your colleagues.)
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!