Thursday, 10 May 2012


This should go without saying, but needs to be said. People who love each other should be allowed to confirm that love in any way they see fit, and the law should recognise their relationship regardless of what gender they are. To not recognise gay marriage, or to segregate with civil unions (as we do here in New Zealand) is discrimination, based on sexuality. If you are American, it is a violation of your constitutional rights. If you are human, it is a violation of your basic human rights. President Obama has shown immense bravery in making his declaration of support, and I hope that from this platform he can win support for another term and try to make some real change in his country.

There are a number of objections to gay marriage which crop up time and time again. Firstly, there is an idea that marriage is a "Christian institution" and so should respect Christian ideals. While I personally don't think that Christianity is necessarily anti-homosexual, I respect that some people do believe that homosexuality is a sin. If you believe that, avoid homosexual behaviour yourself and don't attempt to impose your views on others (other than by rational discourse), then I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with this argument.

Marriage is not a Christian institution. It is an important part of Christianity, and it did enter the Common Law from Christianity. But marriage is a universal concept. In predominantly Buddhist countries, it is a secular institution administered by the state. In Japan, it was a ceremony traditionally performed by a Shinto priest. Marriage is universal.

But let's say that we accept the argument that marriage was brought into our society by Christianity, and that even though it is now secularised it must follow the Christian model. What does that mean for me? I am not a Christian. Christian marriage applies to me as much as it does to homosexuals. Why then am I allowed to be married in New Zealand, but a homosexual is not?

The Civil Union is an "alternative" to marriage, a secular invention, that politicians have used to "satisfy" the demands of equality. How is this anything different from the separate but equal rhetoric that shaped and shackled civil rights in the US? The Civil Union does allow for homosexual relationships to be recognised in law, but the amended definition of extended relationships in NZ does that as well. Segregation is discrimination, and it is terrible that this needs to be said as much in 2012 as in 1960.

If marriage is a Christian institution, then let it be Christian. Remove marriage as a secular institution, recognise the civil union in law as one relationship for everyone, regardless of gender. Leave marriage as a word for a ceremony, performed in a church or synagogue or shrine, and have the law equal.

This is the civil rights movement of our generation. When history looks back on us, let us be the ones who stood up and fought for equality, and not those who let injustice pass us by.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
-Martin Niemöller

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