New Zealand legalises gay marriage

On April 17th, 2013, New Zealand parliament cheered in song with the passing of a law which allows homosexuals to marry their partners. This is a fabulous outcome and a celebration of love and the tradition of proclaiming our love for one person through marriage.

If two people wish to engage in a mutually consensual act together, and it causes no harm to anyone else, then it is not a question of morality and it cannot be considered immoral.

In his essay On Liberty, the British philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote,

“…the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant….Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

E.E. Cummings once said,

“Unless you love someone, nothing else makes any sense.”


  1. Yes the time has come for gay marriage to be legalised. But I cannot see it happening with our new PM post September 14th. Our present PM at least would allow a conscience vote but the coalition would not be allowed to vote on conscience. As I write these words I appreciate the huge flaw in our democracy that out elected representatives can be, at the arbitary descretion of their leader, not allowed a ‘conscience’ vote i.e. they are not allowed to vote according to their personal principles. How terrible!

    1. There is something a little too religious about Tony Abbott. I respect that people have their faith but it ought to be kept out of politics. There’s no place in modern society for faith-based leadership.

  2. After the NZ announcement, I heard a radio interviewee say he was concerned that allowing gays to marry would undermine the sanctity and institution of marriage. I laughed to myself as I thought heteros had already done a great job of this – myself included!

    1. The same sentiments have been expressed here. Someone wrote to NZRadio last weekend to say the new law has made their whole marriage a farce! It will do no such thing. It will have absolutely no impact on the vast majority of married people, but it is terrific for one section of the population previously unable to get married.

  3. It’s not Sept. 14 yet so Julia can allow a conscience vote. She’s an atheist and opposed to gay marriage but so is Abbott, a Catholic. What does religion have to do with it? The opposition to gay marriage is not necessarily religion based. What is going to stop me marrying my sister if the claim for “marriage equality” is “fairness” and the fact that two parties love each other, and what possible opposition could there then be to polygamy?
    The nuclear family at the moment has enough problems without adding a new one.

    1. What is going to stop you from marrying your brother? Why does it matter whether it’s your brother or your sister? But I agree! If two siblings love each other and both wish to get married, then I have no objections. I think though, that most people do not want to marry their siblings, so I can’t imagine a strong movement pushing for this law change. With the invention of contraception, the possibility of deformed children being born in this sort of union has disappeared.

      Abbott has predictably religious values – anti-abortion, anti-stem cell research, and anti-gay marriage. I don’t object to his faith. Not at all. Just as long as his reasoning in decisions of policy, is not based on faith. For instance, it seems an odd decision to me, to require approval from politicians rather than health professionals in order to get an abortion pill (RU486). He gives as his reason, the health of the mother. If he was really concerned about the health of the mother, then surely it would be better left in the hands of the mother and her doctor, rather than a politician with no background in medicine and who is unfamiliar with the woman. Here’s a quote from the link above, written by Tony Abbott:
      “Experts can explain fads(sic) but politicians then have to resolve the values that are to be placed on those facts to the satisfaction of a democratic electorate.”
      Note that he specifically says it’s up to politicians to resolve the values. How do you argue with someone whose values are based on the reasoning that “God says so”, when you don’t believe in God, or perhaps you believe in a different God.

  4. I thought we were talking about legalising same sex marriages? Can we also leave Tony Abbott and abortion out of the argument? Abortion is a completely different topic with another set of moral issues. Don’t assume because someone is anti-gay marriage, they are religious and anti-abortion.
    And with 145 days before our election i.e. with plenty of time left to do it, I’m not even sure if the Labor Party will have a conscience vote on gay marriage

  5. The Marriage Act was legislated specifically for heterosexuals to marry and have children. I have nothing against civil unions. They are entitled to be as miserable as the rest of us but why must they use the term “marriage” unless it is to obtain the tax and welfare benefits accruing to families? Let them call it something else.

  6. I agree with Max.It is wrong for elected representatives to act arbitrarily in defiance of the wishes of the community.However,major political parties operate on the basis that conscience votes are only granted on rare occasions and for compelling reasons.No modern political party could survive if everyone iignored the party platform and voted as they pleased.I doubt that gay marriage is in the top 20 matters of concern for the electorate.If as we are repeatedly told, a majority of Australians are in favour, let’s have a referendum on September 14 next, “Yes or No ” to gay marriage.
    On the same topic,I think it’s shocking that the Federal Government could legislate a Carbon Tax or ETS when only 32% of the public are in favour and they were promised no carbon tax ” under a government I lead”.

    1. I don’t think you answered my question on polygamous marriages, Rachel. If it meets your criteria of fairness or equality and deep love and commitment, would possible objection could you have?

      1. Some of the objections to polygamous marriage arise because it’s usually associated with the discrimination and repression of women, which causes harm and so can be considered immoral on that basis. There’s also the view that an asymmetric marriage – where one person has more central power than all the others – can never be equitable. We have to be careful though, not to object simply because we find it culturally unpalatable. I’m prepared to be wrong in this instance, but on the surface, it looks to me like there are some logical ethical objections to polygamy.

  7. Well I have ethical objections to gay marriage which you seem oblivious to.
    I love my dog. My dog loves me. It is discriminatory to forbid us to marry!

  8. I just want to add, Rach, that I can see enormous benefits for single, old women being able to marry and get family benefits. So many women struggle in old age especially where they have been housewives and mothers all their lives, relying on the husband to provide for them, or suffering because of inequitable pay scales throughout their lives, and inadequate super. Then there are the older abandoned wives and widows, the former having to see everything lost to a younger woman. The hope of a same sex marriage will give some hope and financial gain to so many older women.
    With regard to your family tree though which I see you are busily working on, you may find it difficult to fill in some gaps down the track.

  9. From today’s Australian:- “Though polygamists are a minority-a tiny minority in fact-freedom has no value unless it extends to even the smallest and most marginalized among us. So let’s fight for marriage equality until it extends to every same-sex couple in the United States-and then let’s keep fighting.” Quoting Jillian Keenan, April 15.

  10. You’ve convinced me, Rach! I’ve just joined Australians for marriage equality and have already written off a few letters to Federal MPs pushing for change.

    1. Wow! Are you serious? That’s great. Interesting article in The Australian. I don’t think I have anything terribly sensible to say about polygamy other than what I already mentioned above. I’ll be interested to follow the debate.

      1. When you think about it why should your family have more benefits than a same sex parent family? It’s definitely not fair to the children of the latter type of family.

        Sent from my iPhone

      2. I didn’t realise there was a difference. I don’t think there is NZ, but I could be wrong. I’d have thought the law would treat defacto/civil union/marriage consistently where benefits were concerned.

      3. I’ll have to check that too. Maybe I’m wrong. When I reflect on the lousy life my mother had in her marriage onTI, anything that improves the lot of women is worth it, and that includes lesbian marriages.

        Sent from my iPhone

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