AUCKLAND, New Zealand (LifeSiteNews.com) – New Zealand has become the 13th country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill was passed in Parliament Wednesday night 77 votes to 44.
Reaction from the supporters of the legislation has been jubilant. Louisa Wall, who submitted the Private Member’s Bill, said, “This third reading is our road towards healing and including all citizens in our state institution of marriage regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.”
However, while supporters of the legislation are celebrating, many New Zealanders are concerned at how fast it has moved through the parliamentary process, and the effects it will have on the country.
“In passing the ‘shot-gun’ same-sex marriage bill, Parliament has chosen to reject the obvious cultural and natural character of marriage and the subsequent creation and care of children, and made marriage just about partnership,” said Bob McCroskie, National Director of Family First.
“In ramming through this bill in a shameful way without due consideration, and with no clear public mandate, politicians have committed an arrogant act of cultural vandalism.”
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The bill, which had its first reading in August 2012, only a month after it was introduced, redefines marriage to include same-sex and transgender couples. The law also allows same-sex couples to adopt children, a consequence of the legislation that has not been widely understood within New Zealand.
There are concerns that the rights of children have been overlooked. “With the accompanying consequence of changes to adoption laws, politicians have also weakened the rights of the child in favour of pandering to the demands of adults,” said McCroskie. “A child has a right to a mum and a dad. We should not set out in public policy to deny a child that basic right. This is not a sexuality issue. This is a gender issue. The gender of the parents does matter to a child.”
It has been stated throughout the debate that legalising same-sex marriage will not affect others, however Dame Colleen Bayer, National Director of Family Life International NZ, argued that same-sex marriage does affect those who oppose it. “Supporters of same-sex ‘marriage’ tell those of us who oppose the legislation that it will not affect us, that it is about love, equality and human rights. But this legislation does affect those who are not in support of same-sex marriage. We are not allowed to speak our minds. We are called ‘haters’, ‘bigots’. What will come next?”
Archbishop John Dew, President of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference, reportedly reacted to the passage of the legislation, saying: “We find it bizarre that what has been discarded is an understanding of marriage that has its origin in human nature and common to every culture, and that almost all references to husband and wife will be removed from legislation referencing marriage. We know many New Zealanders stand with us in this.”
Civil Unions have been legal in New Zealand since April 2005.
The changes to the Marriage Act will take effect in August 2013.