There will be no electoral backlash against MPs who support Marriage Equality

In the lead-up to the First Reading of Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill, all MPs are receiving quite a lot of mail and email on both sides of the debate.

A point frequently made by opponents of the reform is that they won’t vote for MPs who support the Bill. List MPs are insulated from such threats of course (except for a party like the Greens, who only get MPs into Parliament via the list, and who will support the Bill as Party policy), but electorate MPs with narrow margins might understandably feel a little fearful.

Actually, we’ve been here before. During the public debates that surrounded Homosexual Law Reform, adding “sexual orientation” to anti-discrimination law, and Civil Unions, opponents threatened not only that the sky would fall, but also that they would unseat MPs who voted for the reforms.

MPs might well note that with public support for marriage equality outweighing opposition by 2:1 (and considerably more than that amongst younger voters), which is much more favourable than those previous reforms, there is less risk. Since they could still be nervous, I commissioned some analysis of what actually happened since these key reforms to see how effective opponents had been in bringing about electoral ruin for reform supporters.

The inescapable conclusion is that the threats made to unseat reform supporters were entirely groundless.

Electoral results: Homosexual law reform, anti-discrimination law and Civil Unions

Of course some supporters did lose their seats, but people lose seats for all sorts of reasons, such as general swings against their Party, boundary changes, and great opponents. In general, reform supporters actually fared a little better than reform opponents, although there are too many variables to say for sure that supporting reform actually improved electoral fortunes.

That might be different with marriage equality, because it is so much more popular with the public.

What is also noteworthy? Particular electorates or communities that are assumed to be least supportive of progressive measures related to sexual orientation turn out to be indistinguishable from the rest of the community.

The take out message is that if an MP shares a support for marriage equality with the vast majority of the public, they have absolutely no reason to worry that voting this way will damage them electorally.

If anything, it’s those who intend to vote against the Bill who may need to worry.

5 thoughts on “There will be no electoral backlash against MPs who support Marriage Equality

  1. What is enlightening is the behaviour of NZ First.

    Realising their caucus was out of step with public support for the legislation they have tried to pose their negative vote as motivated by support for a referendum to decide the matter.

    One wonders how they will vote on the alcohol legislation “conscience vote” – as to the age of purchase – again negative to any change because the public should decide? Or will they differentiate their position to suit the case by case bias in their caucus.

    Why do some politicians/parties find it so hard to truly stand by their/its principles.

    Somewhat amusing that John Banks now has to readjust his conscience as the price for taking over the ACT Party – by voting according to its libertarian concepts, despite his comments in 1986.

  2. In so far as the Green Party is concerned it simply reinforces its position as a party that takes the Human Rights Act seriously – whereas other parties allow the personal petty bigotry of caucus members to be on public display.

    And in the case of NZ First a party line imposed – so the political opportunism of one is the collective vote of all (a party committed to the people deciding would either abstain or heed the opinion polls showing majority support for the Wall bill) – he is positioning the party to compete for votes with the Conservative Party and more conservative Labour voters (and conservative National voters opposed to asset sales).

  3. I don’t know enough to comment on the issue of the missing vote on the age for legal purchase of alcohol, however I will note the obvious connection between the two issues.

    For there is a conenction between the personal choices we make and how drunk we are when we make them. And as we all know drinking and nakedness has its day after consequences, that sometimes seems like due judgement from God.

    When Noah’s son in law Ham found his father drunk he had to put him to bed. Later Lot’s daughter did the same for her father. Men drunk and naked are vulnerable (and) are often taken advantage of by others. As some say in this debate, first they give you license to lie with other men, even your daughters husband, then you end up in bed with your own daughter.

    This is not just true of the family of Ham and his son Canaan but of their neighbours to the east of the Jordan as well.

    So to this day Arab Moslems forsake alcohol, yet being tee-total also has its consequences, as many still marry their cousins, sometimes all 4 of them.

  4. If however they have more than 4 female cousins, they have to share the others with their brothers – if they get her brothers permission. After all these people are Arabs, not royal Egyptians hosting Abraham and his wife.

  5. And her younger sister, his sister in law. Abraham would not bear false witness lie to a Pharoaoh now would he?

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