Category Archives: Same Sex Marriage
ASEXUALITY: NOT JUST FOR AMOEBAS
On Tuesday 19th April, one of our members, Alice, comes to talk to us about Asexuality. Alice is an asexual woman living with an asexual male partner. She has studied biopsychology and hormones. She will explain all the terminology associated with identifying as asexual, will be taking questions at the end of the talk, and making available printed resources leading to more information about asexuality.
On Tuesday 26th March we had a presentation by Paul Rishworth on Same-Sex marriage and Religious Exemptions: how New Zealand law and international human rights law interact.
This talk gave an overview of how international human rights law has developed since its origins in the aftermath of World War II, and how that body of law now interacts with New Zealand’s own law. Against that background, the current debate about same sex marriage, and the case for religion-based exemptions from solemnising same-sex marriages, will be explored.
Paul Rishworth joined The University of Auckland Faculty of Law in 1987. His research interests are in the field of human rights and comparative constitutional law, and South Pacific legal studies. His work on the New Zealand Bill of Rights has been widely cited by peers, practitioners and judges. He has worked over the years as a consultant and advisor for government agencies and groups, including the Human Rights Commission, in New Zealand and overseas, on issues ranging from restrictions on hate speech to the autonomy of religious organisations to hire and ordain leaders.
Paul was the Faculty Dean and the Head of the Department of Law 2005-2010. He remains involved in the litigation of civil rights issues in the higher courts and in community organisations. Most recently he presented in person the NZ Law Societies submission to the same same-sex Marriage Bill.
Details of this submission and the NZ Law Societies position can be found here:
A law allowing same-sex couples to marry was passed on Wednesday 17th April
UPDATE: Here is the video from this talk.
On the 18th Sept we hosted a debate on legalizing same-sex marriage.
Here is one RSS member’s considerations against.
“If marriage is important, an understanding implicit in State recognition, we need to be clear about what it is. Those who believe that all relationship types should be equal in the eyes of the law ought to promote not same-sex marriage, but rather the abolition or privatization of marriage. Some will say that the current move is just a first step to a wider reinvention of the institution, while it is also claimed that the proposed shift could only strengthen marriage in NZ – but these cannot both be true. I suggest that marriage is rationally limited to male-female pairs, and that no compelling alternative view of marriage is on offer in the public debate.
“Marriage is a pre-political institution that arises across the world in a range of slightly different forms as a result of the biological realities involved in producing children. In NZ it is shaped by norms of monogamy, fidelity, and love, as a result of the universal intrinsic link to children and our culture’s belief in the equality of the partners. Only a pair from the opposite sex can share life together fully (socially, economically, physically) in a union that can result in children. Extending marriage fails to recognise why the institution currently has the form it does. In jettisoning the biological family unit as its basis, along with biblical statements which reinforce the relevant norms for many in NZ, we are left floating in a relativistic soup.
“The primary public good of marriage is families, including children; it is a good for children to be raised by their biological parents where possible and the State may appropriately choose to provide benefits to the kind of union where that can occur. But there are ancillary goods too, which helps to explain the legitimate inclusion of many couples without children. It is a good to have models of the kind of union that in many cases produces the primary good. It is good for society for members of the opposite sex to share life together fully, with commitment. The government is not interested in the fertility of individual couples but does have an interest in promoting opposite-sex parenting as the ideal. Not recognising the value and form of this institution shaped around children’s wellbeing would be a failure by the State.
“The proposed law discriminates against a number of relationship forms; 15 are listed in Schedule 2 of the Bill. Having divorced marriage from both biology and biblical norms, justifying the particularly contours seems left to tradition or accidents of history – poor bases for law. It also has the potential to discriminate against those whose religious beliefs do not allow recognition of unions between people of the same sex as a ‘marriage’, as explained in the legal opinion of Ian Bassett, available online. Some support the Bill on the basis that society has changed, and that democracy requires the shift, even if there are inconsistencies. If you believe that, let your MP know that you want this issue put to a national referendum, and let the debate play out in public.”
On the 18th Sept we hosted a debate on legalizing same-sex marriage.
Here is one RSS member’s considerations FOR.
“Marriage has been a traditional social institution in multiple forms predating reliable recorded history and our current limited definition by a considerable period of time. Some of these traditions included marriages of same sex couples which were overwritten by a limited Judaeo-Christian derived definition conceived in a period of extreme homophobia. That tradition should now be overwritten by an egalitarian one that recognises a relationship on its own merits. The truth is that marriage was a legal contract used for commercial gain and/or power consolidation between the upper classes. It progressed into an expression of love that provides legal rights for those in it; it is simply time that it progresses further.
“Gay marriage equality parallels that of the struggle of interracial couples in USA in the 1960’s. Many of the arguments against selectively extending this right to include interracial couples are the same, including it being unnatural and children are worse off in interracial families. All are based on a combination of irrational fear, logical fallacies, appeals to tradition and empty claims about the public good. The data does not back any of these arguments, if it did the opponents to gay marriage would be able to produce independent studies supporting their point but just the opposite is true. The legal option obtained by opponents to the current bill has been thoroughly debunked. There is no risk that ANY individual or Church will be forced to recognise or hold same sex unions, just as they are not forced to hold or recognise interfaith or racial unions now.
“The average gay relationship is identical in every way to the average straight relationship with the sole exception that the couple cannot have heterosexual sex, so cannot produce children. If we are going to legislate policy on the bases of what type of sexual acts a couple preforms in the privacy of their own bedroom we are on very shaky ground. Additionally many straight relationships do not produce offspring, either by choice or by infertility problems; if this was to be the reasoning then these relationships should be excluded from marriage as well. Furthermore, gay couples have the same desire to be parents and do so via the same means as many couples with an infertility barrier. There has been no evidence that they are unfit parents. If marriage between loving couples provides the best environment for children then we should not be punishing those with gay parents.
“Same sex couples share their lives as completely with each other as straight couples do and with that comes the need for legal protection. Civil unions were a step forward but they are not a copy/paste of all the rights and privileges of marriage nor are they recognised globally. Even if they were, “separate but equal” is not a message we want to send. Due to all of this it is in the public good to be egalitarian unless we can find an objective reason why we should not. Harm is caused by discrimination while there has been no evidence presented of actual harm in extending marriage to be inclusive of gay couples.”
We will be holding a group discussion on whether to legalise gay marriage. Speaking against the law change will be Zachary while supporting gay marriage will be Joshua. The discussion will be moderated by Talia.
Each side will give a 10 minute opening statement and 10 minutes of questions for the opposing side. There will then be a general group discussion or question time until 7:00.
This event will take place at 5:00 in room 206-209 of the Arts 1 building on Tuesday 18th September.
UPDATE: You can view the debate here: