Even those of us who are most comfortable in our sexual orientation feel molten lead pouring into our stomachs whenever a gay issue comes up in the media.
You spend years trying to justify your existence to the world, and then turn on the television, radio or open a newspaper and get greeted by screeds of vomitous thoughts on why you don’t matter.
There is a horrid story of a man in Wellington who killed himself after listening to the final Parliamentary debate on homosexual law reform in 1985. His own internal turmoil over accepting who he was could not withstand the onslaught of realising he lived in a world where so many people – authority figures whose wages he paid, no less – felt compelled to express their hatred of him as a human being.
Yesterday, Labour MP Louisa Wall had a private member’s bill drawn from the ballot which seeks to amend the Marriage Act 1955 so that same-sex couples can finally marry.
As noted yesterday, the Prime Minister has steadfastly refused to take a stand on such issues because they are “not a priority” for his government, but now that this bill has been drawn they have been made into one.
So what have the reactions been so far?
Here’s what we found out in TV3’s report, “What MPs think of gay marriage”:
Tau Henare (National) “Most probably in favour. I’m quite agnostic on these things. If it doesn’t hurt anyone, why not?”
Bill English (National) [while smirking] “I have to say I haven’t given it any thought, it’s not top of my agenda…I haven’t even considered it, I don’t know what’s in the bill…it’s not that important…ah, clearly it’s important to some people…we’re focused on the economy.”
Tony Ryall (National) “I think we’ll have to look at exactly what it is before we make a decision on that…” [runs away before more questions are asked]
Amy Adams (National) “I haven’t really given it any thought. My initial view is that what we have seems to be working fine.”
Christopher Finlayson (National’s only openly gay MP) “I haven’t given it a moment’s thought, I’ve been too busy supporting Treaty grievances” [looks incensed to have been asked before walking off]
Peter Dunne (United Future) “I’ll support its introduction.”
Jonathan Coleman (National) “I have to read the bill first, but I’ll give it serious consideration.”
David Carter (National) “I haven’t given it any thought at all.”
Steven Joyce (National) “Haven’t given it a moment’s thought to be honest (laughs), not exactly the biggest issue of the day.”
Jonathan Young (National) “I’ll have to have a look at the bill, and see what my constituents in New Plymouth think as well.”
Richard Prosser (NZ First) “I’ll be voting against. This is about preserving the institution of marriage. It’s got nothing to do with gays, I’ve got nothing against gays.”
Brendan Horan (NZ First) “There’s so many more important things right now than people getting married. We’ve just had Treaty of Waitangi settlements this afternoon and that’s rich in New Zealand history…”
Pita Sharples (Maori Party) “Personally I support it, so I’ll be voting for it.”
Kevin Hague (Green Party) “I’m an extremely strong supporter of marriage equality, and all fourteen Green MPs will be voting for it.”
The reason why MPs are all being canvassed for their opinion is because this bill will be what is laughably termed a “conscience” vote, where MPs get to make up their own minds rather than voting in line with their party.That something as fundamental as civil rights is deemed important enough for individuals to have a choice as to whether or not they support it, whereas things that have a far wider-reaching impact such as asset sales, changes to employment law, and welfare entitlements are not illustrates how warped our democratic “priorities” really are.
Conscience is one’s inner sense of what is right or wrong. The obfuscating answers of many MPs to date shows their lack of moral courage in letting the public know where they stand on this issue; which unlike many things in life, is a black-or-white one. You either think it is right for same-sex couples to be able to marry, or you think it is wrong.
In this sense, it’s far easier to have respect for the Richard Prossers of the world than it is for the Tony Ryalls and (gay!) Chris Finlayson who scurry for the corners in the media spotlight as if they’ve just been asked how often they masturbate.