Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Gaying Out

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Though I’ve to to admit I find it bizarre that, even in a country with a de facto state religion, the British Government can regulate the use of Bible readings and hymns.

    The limits on how and where you can get married in Britain are just bloody silly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The limits on how and where you can get married in Britain are just bloody silly.

    Quite. Though to be fair, they tend to be the long tail of brutal sectarian divisions we've never had to endure in New Zealand. Though it’s a whole other can of worms that our head of state still has to meet a religious qualification that would be flat out illegal where our legislators and judiciary are concerned.

    Adding insult to injury: Said religious qualification was imposed twelve thousand miles away and three centuries ago by the British Parliament. And, incidentally, our head of state is explicitly forbidden by the same law from marrying anyone who doesn’t belong to the Church of England.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    The Catholic church swung the ban hammer immediately, the Methodists hummed-and-hahhed before deciding against it and the Anglicans seemed to leave it up to individual clergy for a while, but then disallowed clergy from performing civil union ceremonies in their official roles last year.

    And then christian churches wonder why their religion is associated with bigotry in the public mind. They made their bed, now they get to die in it.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    And then christian churches wonder why their religion is associated with bigotry in the public mind.

    Associated with? That's generous.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Associated with? That's generous.

    True. Equated with would be more accurate.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    And then at the party, when Hattie St John did ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ from up in the rafters, I actually did cry. Sometimes, cheese is what you need.

    Had two friends dancing in that show. One straight; one gay. There was something special about the event, the sentiment, the serious side of it you mention, and the inclusiveness that seems very significant now. I've been thinking recently how we need something like that again. But it's the 'like what?' question that needs some more serious consideration. Political point scoring does not seem the best place to start.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    This sort of reluctant leader schtick polls real well among the Right. There are quite a few GOP representatives who owe long careers to their promising to have short ones.

    That's an interesting take, I'd not though of that approach.

    The Standard keeping saying the same thing. I think Key really, really likes being an incredibly popular Prime Minister, and that he will stick with the job for the foreseeable future.

    Sure, wouldn't anyone? By that logic, he'd go if he lost (and has said as much) or when it got unpopular being PM which is what I'm wondering about...

    This idea that Key's just going to suddenly vanish is related to the common sentiment in the Labour Party that the public should just 'wake up' and vote them all back into power. It's magical thinking.

    Perhaps, it's not what I've said however, and he might want to stop fueling the discussion by not talking about leaving (or the things you do when you leave, which presumably is when you've got time to write a book).

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I am just disappointed that he got pretty much drafted in as a shoo-in for his seat and then for PM, never spent an apprenticeship in the back benches, and isn't willing to do anything other than take the top job.

    I'm glad you have respect for Helen Clark, cos I sure ain't got much for John I-agree-with-the-latest-poll Key.

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    And in NZ law, marriage has nothing to do with invisible sky faeries. Its entirely civil. What matters is not whether there is a church and a priest, but whether you fill out the paperwork and make an appropriate statutory declaration before a government official.

    Although the authorised person that officiates at the ceremony is traditionally a religious official of some sort. It's important not to ignore the context laws actually operate in, rather than just what's written down in our laws.

    Which leads me to wonder: hypothetically speaking, if the Marriage Act was updated to be gender-neutral, and two men wanted to get married in a church whose congregation they both belonged to, what would their legal options be in forcing the church to allow the ceremony? Could churches be required to supply a minister of the faith to officiate? This is the dream for some people, and I think it's also why some older religious conservatives object to legal recognition of gay marriage as marriage.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    This sort of reluctant leader schtick polls real well among the Right. There are quite a few GOP representatives who owe long careers to their promising to have short ones.

    There was a highly amusing (in hindsight, anyway) article about ten years ago in The Economist about Rogernomics and Ruth Richardson that claimed Douglas, Prebble, Richardson, etc were not career politicians, but rather "citizen agitators" who "got in, made radical changes, and got out" and that this was the preferred modus operandi of neoliberalism.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    Which leads me to wonder: hypothetically speaking, if the Marriage Act was updated to be gender-neutral, and two men wanted to get married in a church whose congregation they both belonged to, what would their legal options be in forcing the church to allow the ceremony?

    Why would you want to? Seriously. – it’s a vaguely interesting thought experiment, but do you really want the judiciary getting into the business of dictating doctrine and practice to churches? If I wanted to live a de facto theocracy, I’m hardly spoiled for choice.

    And emotionally, I can’t even begin to articulate how much I don’t want something so precious and incredibly solemn conducted at the business end of a court order.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    if the Marriage Act was updated to be gender-neutral, and two men wanted to get married in a church whose congregation they both belonged to, what would their legal options be in forcing the church to allow the ceremony?

    This is a thorny. What I'd like to do is get rid of the situation we have currently where an ordained minister automatically becomes a marriage celebrant, which is a CIVIL function, not a religious one. Then as people became ministers, they could decide whether they wanted to perform a civil function, which they would have to perform in accordance with the law. If they found it unconscionable to marry same-sex couples, they wouldn't become celebrants.

    They would still be able to conduct church marriage services, but you'd need a civil celebrant as well. This is the default position in France.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Although the authorised person that officiates at the ceremony is traditionally a religious official of some sort. It's important not to ignore the context laws actually operate in, rather than just what's written down in our laws.

    "Traditionally" in the past - but not so much any more. And egardless, what empowers them to officiate is not that they are religious officials, but a licence from the government.

    Which leads me to wonder: hypothetically speaking, if the Marriage Act was updated to be gender-neutral, and two men wanted to get married in a church whose congregation they both belonged to, what would their legal options be in forcing the church to allow the ceremony? Could churches be required to supply a minister of the faith to officiate?

    I've blogged about this here, and the legal case is pretty clear cut. Acting as a marriage celebrant is providing a service. Discrimination in the provision of goods and services is outlawe dby the Human Rights Act. So a celebrant couldn't refuse to marry a gay couple. Neither could a religious body refuse to provide a venue which was otherwise made available to members of the public or their congregations for such functions.

    In addition to that, there's another limb, which is going to have serious weight in NZ courts because of the Saskatchewan case. Marriage celebrants are public officials. They must therefore conduct ceremonies for whoever asks in a non-discriminatory manner. Arguing otherwise is to argue that a WINZ bureaucrat can refuse to process a benefit application for someone because they're gay or Maori. So, if priests don't want to marry gay couples, they'll have to surrender their role as celebrants.

    (In practice, I expect this not to come up. After all, who wants to be married by a celebrant who doesn't want to marry them. But there's an important principle here, and when the day comes, I'll be hounding bigots off the celebrant rolls).

    This is the dream for some people, and I think it's also why some older religious conservatives object to legal recognition of gay marriage as marriage.

    To put it politely, fuck them. We didn't let old racists stop us from becoming a better society on the racial front, and we shouldn't let old bigots stop us from becoming a better society wrt sexual orientation.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Why would you want to? Seriously. - it's a vaguely interesting thought experiment, but do you really want the judiciary getting into the business of dictating doctrine and practice to churches? If I wanted to live a de facto theocracy, I'm hardly spoiled for choice.

    Its not about doctrine and practice, its about the provision of goods and services. Saying "bigot celebrants can refuse to marry gay people" is the same as saying "bigot accountants can refuse to do taxes for gay people", or "bigot landlords can refuse to rent houses to gay people".

    (But yes, I also recognise that no-one in practice wants to be married by a celebrant who doesn't want to marry them. I expect venues to be a much thornier issue, and it will almost certainly come up)

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    This is a thorny. What I'd like to do is get rid of the situation we have currently where an ordained minister automatically becomes a marriage celebrant, which is a CIVIL function, not a religious one.

    Easily done. Repeal s8 - 10; 13(1) (c) and (d) and/or schedule 1 of the Marriage Act. You want the bill drafted?

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    (In practice, I expect this not to come up. After all, who wants to be married by a celebrant who doesn’t want to marry them. But there’s an important principle here, and when the day comes, I’ll be hounding bigots off the celebrant rolls).

    Thanks for the link, reading now. I do think this will come up from time to time-even if just in symbolic protests. And quite frankly, I think it's entirely appropriate-if you're the sort of person that believes in the spiritual authority of an organisation, you should have the right to demand that they treat you the way they would treat any other human being.

    To put it politely, fuck them. We didn’t let old racists stop us from becoming a better society on the racial front, and we shouldn’t let old bigots stop us from becoming a better society wrt sexual orientation.

    I agree completely. I don't see any reason not go ahead with updating the marriage act to reflect that gender shouldn't be a restriction on who marries. The status quo is inherently unjust.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    Its not about doctrine and practice, its about the provision of goods and services. Saying "bigot celebrants can refuse to marry gay people" is the same as saying "bigot accountants can refuse to do taxes for gay people", or "bigot landlords can refuse to rent houses to gay people".

    They aren't going to be selling a state marriage. They will be selling a religious practice including religious marriage.

    I've blogged about this here, and the legal case is pretty clear cut. Acting as a marriage celebrant is providing a service. Discrimination in the provision of goods and services is outlawe dby the Human Rights Act. So a celebrant couldn't refuse to marry a gay couple. Neither could a religious body refuse to provide a venue which was otherwise made available to members of the public or their congregations for such functions.

    Legally the state can do whatever it pleases, but religions don't always take well being told what to do - like they have some sort of religious objection to it. States when they do try to tell religions how to conduct their affairs can run into severe blowback.

    (In practice, I expect this not to come up. After all, who wants to be married by a celebrant who doesn't want to marry them. But there's an important principle here, and when the day comes, I'll be hounding bigots off the celebrant rolls).

    Its nice to have principles, but...

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    They aren't going to be selling a state marriage. They will be selling a religious practice including religious marriage.

    The only marriage there is in NZ is state marriage. "Religious marriage" is a religious fiction. What matters legally is not the religious ceremony, but the civil paperwork. And if religious institutions don't want to offer that civil paperwork, then they don't need to be celebrants.

    Though this only gets them off the hook for celebrant services. They will still face issues over provision of venues.

    Legally the state can do whatever it pleases, but religions don't always take well being told what to do - like they have some sort of religious objection to it. States when they do try to tell religions how to conduct their affairs can run into severe blowback.

    Tough shit to them. We have a law, and that law says "you can't discriminate - on race, gender, religion, __or__sexuality". Being religious does not give people an exception to that law, and nor should it. If churches want to disobey that law, then they will face the consequences, just like any other racist or bigoted business.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    Discrimination in the provision of goods and services is outlawe dby the Human Rights Act.

    Yes, but in the same fashion as there is an employment exception that allows the Catholic Church to only ordain males it would be quite simple to add an exception to allow celebrants who hold the office entirely by way of their position within an established religious organisation to refuse to officiate at marriages that are contrary to the doctrinal rules of their church.
    That would probably be pretty close to the wording of the section, in fact.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    Being religious does not give people an exception to that law

    Oh, but it does for employment, and there's nothing to stop other exceptions being written into the law.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Yes, but in the same fashion as there is an employment exception that allows the Catholic Church to only ordain males it would be quite simple to add an exception to allow celebrants who hold the office entirely by way of their position within an established religious organisation to refuse to officiate at marriages that are contrary to the doctrinal rules of their church.

    Yes, they could. They could also add a provision allowing employers to discriminate against Catholics on the basis of their religion. But neither would be a good idea.

    "Except for gays" clauses are morally repugnant. Our state should not perpetrate them. If religious groups have problems behaving in a non-discriminatory fashion when performing state functions, the answer is simple: they should not perform those functions. Problem solved.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    A couple doesn’t have to dissolve their marriage to enter into a civil union with each other. They can just enter into a civil union with each other.

    Could my wife and I enter into a civil union with our flatmate? Having bought a house together, we found ourselves imagining living together for 60 years then being denied access at the hospital.

    The privileges and protections offered by marriages/unions aren't solely relevant to people who are sleeping with each other*, although maybe some more than others. If non-sexual unions take off, would the road to multi-party unions open up? Would we need to develop even more terminology to clue people in to the nature of our relationships?

    * Or are willing to admit it. I have a bad memory of a friend not taking out a protection order because it required her to state that they had 'a relationship in the nature of marriage', and she was ashamed to admit sleeping with the guy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 93 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Could my wife and I enter into a civil union with our flatmate?

    Nope. As noted previously, its restricted to two people. If you want to change that, then start lobbying politicians.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Alex Coleman,

    That John Key 'wait for the book' response has got me more pissed off than it probably should.

    This is what 'straight up' and 'not liking political games' looks like I guess,.

    I blame the PoMo.

    What it looks like to me is that he is, (still), hinting to both sides that he has their back.

    'I'm actually liberal on this, and in the fullness of time, I'll be in a position to make my liberalism apparent, but for the moment, well politics'

    Pandering to bigots, seeking their votes, offering them comfort; is bigotry.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 247 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings, in reply to Emma Hart,

    What I’d like to do is get rid of the situation we have currently where an ordained minister automatically becomes a marriage celebrant, which is a CIVIL function, not a religious one. Then as people became ministers, they could decide whether they wanted to perform a civil function, which they would have to perform in accordance with the law. If they found it unconscionable to marry same-sex couples, they wouldn’t become celebrants.

    I quite like this - it neither sanctions discrimination nor requires anyone to act outside of their conscience/beliefs.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

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