So here’s a sample of the kind of thing MPs are receiving in our inboxes:
EXACTLY WHAT ARE GAYS #4
WHO SAYS WE NEED ‘OFFICIAL MARRIAGE’ FOR INSECURE HOMOSEXUALS?
WHAT’S WRONG WITH CIVIL UNION?
OR FOR EXTREME INSECURITY, MAYBE CASTRATION COULD RELIEVE THEIR ANXIETY
(IT DID FOR MY DOG) (BE LIKE GENETIC ENGINEERING TOO).
OR PERHAPS SUGGEST THEY GET ‘MARRIED’ IN UGANDA INSTEAD.
BE ALMOST WORTH IT TO PAY THEIR ONE WAY FARE.
DON’T YOU VOTE FOR SAME SEX MARRIAGE!
YOUR ELECTORATE WILL REMEMBER IN 2014!
PS DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT ADOPTION!
PPS YOUR MUM WASN’T A LESBIAN.
I’ve excluded the sender’s name because that’s not the point. Bob McCoskrie and Colin Craig would probably say they don’t encourage this kind of approach, but in fact this is precisely what they constantly dog whistle for.
I’ve seen it all before. As part of the campaign for the extension of anti-discrimination law to cover “sexual orientation” and other grounds, I waded through all of the generally poisonous submissions made against Homosexual Law Reform. I commissioned a discourse analysis of the submissions (McCreanor, T.:Why strengthen the city wall when the enemy has poisoned the well?”), which drew some conclusions about how the language used to talk about homosexuality both reflects and shapes underlying beliefs. Both anti-gay bullying and discrimination, and opposition to progressive recognition of the human rights of gay people reflect prejudice that is based in ignorance and fear.
Let’s be clear: while there are no doubt exceptions, most of the opposition to marriage equality is based on a belief that gay and lesbian people are inferior in some way to heterosexual people.
There’s a positive too. I was heavily involved in the campaign for Homosexual Law Reform, and I think I can sayI was a leader of the human rights campaign. It is unquestionable that the proportion of New Zealanders still clinging to homophobic prejudice, as appealed to by Messrs McCroskrie and Craig, is becoming smaller and smaller. Young New Zealanders, in particular, are much more likely to see those with a different sexual orientation or gender identity simply as their equals, with the same human rights as they have.
My partner and I got together in August 1984. That’s 28 years. Probably longer than many of the MPs who will end up voting against Louisa’s Bill. Our lives together are not really any different to those of many heterosexual couples. We cook and eat together, we watch TV, we do the gardening, we have stupid arguments, we visit our families and friends, we go cycling together, we pay the mortgage, we go to the supermarket, we have had a houseful of teenagers, we went to their parent-teacher interviews, we go to the gym. We love each other.
We don’t know if we will marry. But if we do, we hope you will celebrate with us, and recognise that lighting our candle does not extinguish yours – it just increases the light.