Marriage Equality: Difference of world views

The debate over Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill has been raging for almost a year now, and I have received thousands of emails and letters, as well as having read many thousands of submissions during the Select Committee process

I thought the contrast between those in favour and those opposed was striking, and have blogged on this before. Fundamentally there is a difference of world view: those opposed subscribe to a moral code based, usually, on a particular religious faith, and believe everyone should follow this code, whether or not they share that faith. The mental picture I have is a rigidly conformist New Zealand of the 1950s. By way of contrast those who support the Bill usually have a very clear pluralist world view, in which they see the role of Government as providing a framework for a society of many faiths and codes of behaviour.

The difference between the views of older and younger New Zealanders has been particularly striking. When the Select Committee asked some young people about this, they pointed out that they weren’t even born when Fran Wilde’s Homosexual Law Reform Bill overhauled the law in 1986. It is bizarre to them that LGBT people should be treated any differently from anyone else by the law.

We looked for a graphic way of representing this contrast, and used a “sample” of all the correspondence that arrived in my office over a particular time to create word clouds. It’s not science. It’s not discourse analysis. But it makes the point.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You might wonder why we chose LOVE and FEAR. Love because that basic heart message cropped up again and again (love is love, all love is equal, legalise love etc). Fear, because so many of the arguments being used by many opponents were clearly motivated by fear – fear of change, but also fear of imaginary risks, raised a spectres by one or two opposing organisations who, in my view, have acted entirely unethically and dishonestly.

Hope you like.

30 thoughts on “Marriage Equality: Difference of world views

  1. It is overly simplistic and intellectually dishonest to reduce the debate to one between love and fear (although there are certainly elements of both on both sides).

    That really amounts to smearing those one disagrees with by labeling them “fear mongers” with the implication that they do not love.

    The radical difference here is not between love and fear but over the nature of marriage – specifically whether marriage is life giving in the sense that the sexual relationship between the spouses is the kind of sexual relationship able to generate new life – children.

    Heterosexual marriage is radically different to all other types of sexual relationships be they contraceptive, solo, or gay, which by their very nature do not generate children.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 8 (-4)

  2. Chris, you’re not responding to what the post actually says, and I take offence at your accusation of intellectual dishonesty. If opponents of the law reform had simply said they believe that the law should only allow for a marriage to be valid if it is intended to produce children, then I am certain that the word cloud from the correspondence against the Bill would have looked very different. And so would the debate have been.

    But while some opponents argued that, most arguments against have been very different. You would be most welcomes to come and look at them yourself Chris. We actually excluded some of the more extreme ones, but David Farrar has blogged about them today.

    I don’t dispute that effectively I am accusing some organisations of being “fear mongers”. In fact I have explicitly accused Family First, for example, of exactly that. I struggle to find a better term, actually, for an organisation that distributes propaganda encouraging people to believe that the Bill will result in consequences the organisation knows will not occur.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4 (+6)

  3. Chris, if one was to note the modern day reality of the situation rather than some past ideal (pre contraception and the criminalising of oral sex and sodomy) one would have to note

    1. most “procreative” sex acts occur within marriage while contraception is being used

    2. not all sex acts by married heterosexual couples are procreative.

    3. unplanned sexual behaviour by singles results in procreation.

    4. many de facto couples deliberately procreate while unmarried.

    5. many same sex couples also deliberately have children and some would like to do so while married.

    6. there has never been a requirement of evidence of fertility or commitment to reproduce for a marriage to occur.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1 (+4)

  4. Chris,

    A very simple question: Can you provide a single example of how allowing gay people to marry will have a negative impact on anyone?

    To me your argument is akin to saying I don’t like broccoli, therefore no one else should be allowed to eat broccoli, even though there is no evidence that eating broccoli harms anyone at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1 (+2)

  5. I think we should all try to become homosexual, at least for a day, to discover what it’s like “on the other side” and to therefore gain a deeper empathy and understanding for homosexuals. This is the most inclusive and wonderful thing we can do, to nurture each others souls and reach out for a new and beautiful day of higher enlightenment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  6. Well, for starters, this was my submission. Whether it was read or not by the Select Committee.

    “I recently encountered this in an INVESTIGATE magazine released in SEPTEMBER 2003.

    The article, among other things, was commenting upon a U N sponsored meeting held in New York during August 2003 and where Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of the San Francisco based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission led the homosexual groups to pledge
    “ a showdown with religion” over gay marriage, gay priests and gay rights.
    Further in this article, it was reported that the UN group that hosted the event was pressing the United Nations to recognize same-sex couples and treat their partnerships as equal to traditional marriage.
    “IGLHRC, the international group, distributed fliers at the meeting that listed laws that it wants changed, including sodomy, age of consent and other ”sex-act” laws, laws on prostitution, laws penalizing those wearing clothing of the opposite sex and laws on obscenity and pornography”. Additionally, it was noted that the group was also lobbying against “denial of marriage to same sex partners, denial of marriage to transgendered people and laws on parenting and adoption”.

    Remember this was written about in 2003.

    I personally support any effort to treat all humans with respect and dignity and accord, to all, those reasonable Human Rights as set out in the International Declaration.
    I feel,too, that the homosexual community has had a very fair release from many of the rather draconian laws once ascribed to them but I am increasingly concerned at the intensified push by an extremist element within, to turn global society on its head for the wants of a relative few. One has to ask why?
    So here we are in dear little New Zealand. A naturally beautiful country. A former leader in reasoned and healthy reform but long since slipped.
    One has to ask why?
    Fact is, we have. And spending millions in the process!
    The New Zealand social engineering agenda of the past 40 years HAS NOT bettered our society.
    Sex education in schools has largely served only to confuse. It does not appear to have promoted a marked reduction in unplanned pregnancies, abortions, happier relationships and, as far as I can determine, has certainly not taught respect for oneself or anyone else. We have an increase in sexual crime though and an on going battle with pornography.
    Again, one has to ask why?
    Sexually transmitted disease remain high and all of the above constitute a hugh fiscal and social cost to us all thereby exhausting the available funding for many other areas of real need including the increase in youth suicide ( many of whom are, apparently, homosexuals).

    What has this to do with this proposed Bill you may ask?

    The bottom line is that in my nearly 60 years on the planet, I can’t help but note that our society is in an increasingly deeper mess. I am not homophobic and I do not have my head in the sand though , no doubt, some would choose to disagree.

    Yes, it is the 21st century and one would like to think that we would have sorted a lot of basic issues by now but no. We are going backward.

    Further liberalisation of foundational institutions and practices are not proving beneficial to our nation (the guinea pig of the world, it seems).

    “Human Rights” are being deceptively presented to a largely unsuspecting populance, many of whom have been raised in the increasingly unfettered atmosphere of these times and, thereby, know no other from which to benchmark the wave of proposals being raised. ”

    (This would explain Kevin’s comment….)

    “The difference between the views of older and younger New Zealanders has been particularly striking. When the Select Committee asked some young people about this, they pointed out that they weren’t even born when Fran Wilde’s Homosexual Law Reform Bill overhauled the law in 1986. It is bizarre to them that LGBT people should be treated any differently from anyone else by the law”.

    to continue what I submitted:

    I remain totally unconvinced with the argument of some that there is a need to change the definition of marriage in order that the love between same sex couples can be fully expressed.
    Can these people explain why this is not attainable under Civil Union relationships? And as for marital commitment between homosexual couples I have sighted a variety of studies and reports that document the pursuit of additional partners although there remains a primary mate so to speak.

    Also, given that many Homosexuals do not appear to see the need for this Bill from where has this lobbying come from?
    Already there is the push for same sex couples to adopt.

    Despite the inroads on their behalf, is the gay community generally still so lacking in identity that they must further demand dramatic change to all of society in the hope that it would accord them respect and mana?
    My opening paragraphs would indicate that there is a very real agenda, by some, to pursue Human Wants most of which find outlet in self centred power and pleasure.

    I implore the committee to give very careful consideration to validating this Bill given the societal track record to date in the aftermath of imprudent legislation.
    Most persons are willing to live peaceably with the homosexual / rainbow community but there is a limit to how far many of us are prepared to further dampen civil decencies to meet the cravings of some.
    Please consider wisely.

    Our children, in particular, are desperate for solid and healthy role modelling. We need sound principles and practices. Although not without imperfections, marriage as we know it has stood the test of time.”

    And a couple of extra thoughts to the above:
    Like the push of feminism over the years, this “reform” is a demand for LEGISLATED equality. It needs legislative action to prop it up becomes it is unnatural though, once again many would disagree.The attempt to obliterate traditional mores depends on coercive laws to force people to behave in a way they don’t want to.

    Should this Bill pass, I remain unconvinced that, in time, further submissions seeking to allow more permissiveness, would not be pending.
    Why should we believe otherwise? As many would be already aware, when the Civil Union debate was abounding, a number of prominent politicians vowed and declared that marriage would be left untouched. Yeah right!
    And that was not so long ago either.

    I have no problems in accepting that we have a “diversity” in our society
    but, when there is ample evidence to support that the nature and / or promotion of that “diversity” already is, or has the potential to be, self and societally destructive, then one is in error to not raise a voice of concern on the issue.

    So thumbs up or down that’s my tuppence ha’ppenny worth.

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  7. “Sexually transmitted disease remain high and all of the above constitute a hugh fiscal and social cost to us all thereby exhausting the available funding for many other areas of real need including the increase in youth suicide ( many of whom are, apparently, homosexuals).”

    Should read as: ….”thereby exhausting the available funding TO HELP FIND SOLUTIONS for many other areas of real need including…”

    Editing option was not working at the time!

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  8. You do not need to be full of “fear and hate” to be opposed to pushy social progressives and their bullying.

    Quite frankly, I am sick to death of this ‘debate’ because there is no real debate, just demands and accusations.

    Here’s a scenario that is exactly the same as the one that surrounds this issue.

    I can’t get a scholarship from Ngai tahu because I am not Maori, I don’t mind, because I see that as a result of cultural diversity, not ‘inequality’, I am not Maori so what’s the big deal?. When it comes to my marriage however, other people don’t see things the same way, they demand that they be able to redefine the whole institution, (including the words husband and wife) to suit their own particular agenda.
    So I believe “Marriage equality” is a nonsensical term derived to pull on the heart strings of others so that “being nice” becomes the basis for human rights instead of logic and reason.
    “Marriage equality” really has nothing to do with equality at all, so why don’t we just leave marriage as is and celebrate ‘relationship diversity’ instead?

    I support full state recognition of gay relationships through the civil unions legislation that provides ‘legal equality’ for all that want to register their relationship with the state, I just want the gay community to afford the same damned respect to me in my heterosexual tradition.

    This is not about love.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3 (0)

  9. The comparative issue is probably whether women on the marae should be treated equally to the man despite this not being traditional.

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  10. Shunda,

    Who is disrespecting your traditional heterosexual marriage? Fair enough that you don’t like the concept of two men or women getting married … just ignore it and get on with your own life and let others celebrate their marriage in the way they want to. I fail to see how this affects your marriage at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2 (+2)

  11. Who is disrespecting your traditional heterosexual marriage?

    Everyone that is trying to fundamentally redefine it, are you struggling to keep up?

    Fair enough that you don’t like the concept of two men or women getting married … just ignore it and get on with your own life and let others celebrate their marriage in the way they want to.

    Fair enough you don’t like heterosexuals defining themselves with exclusive institutions… just ignore it and get on with your life and let others celebrate their individuality without constant meddling of hand wringing social progressives that constantly look for reasons to be offended with the status quo.

    I fail to see how this affects your marriage at all.

    What an amazing argument you make!, the great samiuela has spoken! :o

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4 (-3)

  12. I fail to see how this affects your marriage at all.

    That’s because you are not a conservative/traditionalist.

    Conservative/traditional people define themselves by what they conform to, the groups they are part of and the ways that they are the same as others. If you fit in, if you conform to a particular role and play by the rules then you are seen as a good, successful person.

    As such, any changes to what to conform to, what their roles are and what society’s rules are becomes VERY threatening to their sense of self and worth.

    So changing the official ‘definition’ of marriage is very threatening to them. It’s like the ground beneath their feet has suddenly vanished. They have never decided for themselves what part of the official rules/roles they want to adopt and what to reject, they accepted them as gospel and worked very hard to live up to those roles. When you change the roles, you’re changing THEM.

    Large numbers of people rely on clear and simple rules/roles dictated to them by ‘experts’ (the church, the law, etc). The diversity of the (post) modern world confuses and angers them. It’s like being adrift at sea with no reference points, nothing firm to hold on to. They yearn for an earlier time when things were clear and simple.

    Poor buggers. Lost in time. Clawing to keep up, but slowly sinking beneath the waves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3 (+4)

  13. rimu, you leave out the apologetics – whereby those of the tradition argue the merits of it. Then they commit to this of their choice rather than a legacy of conformity. Thus become part of a multi-cultural environment, where conservatives and “progressives” (more modern lifestyle choices) become distinct groups within society. This is what is part of the political/cultural divide in the USA during their evolution from a mono-cultural value society to a multi-cultural value society. The USA has always seen itself as absorbing migrants into the melting pot, but this transformation is occurring within and is as divisive as the slave issue of the 19thC and small government vs socialism still is in the economic divide/class warfare area.

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  14. Conservative/traditional people define themselves by what they conform to, the groups they are part of and the ways that they are the same as others. If you fit in, if you conform to a particular role and play by the rules then you are seen as a good, successful person.

    How patronizing of you.

    As such, any changes to what to conform to, what their roles are and what society’s rules are becomes VERY threatening to their sense of self and worth.

    What right do you have to change the traditions of others even if you do think they are silly?

    So changing the official ‘definition’ of marriage is very threatening to them. It’s like the ground beneath their feet has suddenly vanished.

    No. It is like a bully punching you down and stealing your lunch.

    They have never decided for themselves what part of the official rules/roles they want to adopt and what to reject, they accepted them as gospel and worked very hard to live up to those roles.

    How patronizing of you.

    When you change the roles, you’re changing THEM.

    How patronizing of you.

    Large numbers of people rely on clear and simple rules/roles dictated to them by ‘experts’ (the church, the law, etc). The diversity of the (post) modern world confuses and angers them.

    Diversity? you don’t understand the first thing about diversity, everything the left stands for is a bland shade of grey, pull down the highs, lift up the lows. You are fundamentally anti diversity.

    It’s like being adrift at sea with no reference points, nothing firm to hold on to. They yearn for an earlier time when things were clear and simple.

    Strange that you think nihilism is a positive trait, but it’s always others that first suffer the consequences of the lefts actions, as we are now discovering after Labour/greens rule of terror for 10 years. You failed youth, and terribly so.

    Poor buggers. Lost in time. Clawing to keep up, but slowly sinking beneath the waves.

    My kids and are doing better than average, It is what you are doing to their world that is of far more concern.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4 (-3)

  15. What right do you have to change the traditions…

    Now that is an interesting question. One could equally rhetorically ask why should we allow traditions to continue. Just because they are traditions?

    Many things that were traditions over many decades, centuries and indeed millenia are no longer with us because we wished them to be gone. We can and do choose to keep traditions or dispose of traditions as we see fit.

    Why should this particular tradition be any different?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1 (+2)

  16. What right do you have to change the traditions…

    I’m not changing them – they have already changed. The law is being changed to reflect that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2 (+1)

  17. I’m not changing them – they have already changed. The law is being changed to reflect that.

    What utter rubbish.

    Heterosexual people that aren’t married have largely determined the future if the institution, there is nothing ‘organic’ about it.

    Ideology, and the political capital to implement it, like every tyrant in history.

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  18. It must be a difference of world views …

    1. the traditionalist (at most) would only consent to civil union scraps from the wedding feast table – the underlining presumption that not all are equal.

    2. the multi-cultural society values incorporate all as equal citizens.

    Many pre democratic traditions are challenged by the full equality of citizens in a democracy.

    A. the secularisation of marriage (marriage across religious and denomination divide and divorce and remarriage) ended the notion of religious values determining marriage law.

    B. the development of de facto relationships in which children are raised and the prevalence of pre-marital sex cohabitation post contraception, ended conformity to the notion of chastity until a marriage for procreation of children.

    Both A and B were a result of the free will of heterosexual people.

    All it then required was the end of criminalisation of homosexual male sex and use of the psychiatric professions to build a gulag to confine lesbian women, for this more radical change to marriage law.

    The traditionalist is left with the position that even if the law should not continue to constrain the free will choices of others, it should still favour the traditional marriage form over inclusion of all relationships. Even when many in democratic society are willing to include all as equals, including via reform of marriage law.

    This however requires those born in more recent times to favour the tradition associated with the moral authority of religious tradition and constraint of free will through law. This goes against both the concept of individual freedom of this “free market” age and the notion of citizens of a democracy being equal despite religious, race, creed, gender, and sexuality difference. A more modern world view.

    The traditionalist is left free to advocate the worth of their values, but no longer able to impose them through law. It’s time to either rejoice (as some of faith will do) or lament at his this loss of power over society (as authoritarians will) and move on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2 (0)

  19. You are all making an intellectual argument (or appeasement) for bullying.

    The pro marriage redefinition lobby are a big brute bully punching down a smaller opponent.

    You are all exactly like the institutional Christianity that I escaped, you use the same tactics and the same ‘us and them’ mentality.

    My life experience has taught me not to trust either group, and this ‘debate’ just reaffirms to me how dangerous you all are to a stable society.

    The reason you all loath Christian fundamentalists so much is because you are jealous of the power they have (once had) and want it for yourselves.

    Well now you’ve got it, but don’t for a second think you are any damned different, you will be just as prone to corruption and domination as they were.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4 (-3)

  20. Sorry, did i miss something? Dose the Marriage Bill exclude fundamentalist christians?

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  21. Now I’m very confused. At one moment Shunda is decrying “institutional Christianity” yet at another supporting “traditions”. Both of these are rooted in concepts like “old”. Both are subject to being swept away.

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  22. Now I’m very confused.

    Clearly.

    At one moment Shunda is decrying “institutional Christianity” yet at another supporting “traditions”. Both of these are rooted in concepts like “old”. Both are subject to being swept away.

    What a narrow minded, simplistic, ignorant world view you hold.

    Also one that is completely incompatible with the necessary aspects of environmentalism and sustainability.

    I guess if ‘old’ = bad, you don’t have a problem with miners knocking over old podocarp forests on the West coast? Maybe, just maybe, some people equate tradition with preservation, endurance, durability, well being.

    But you just keep on truckin sunshine.

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  23. “You are all making an intellectual argument (or appeasement) for bullying.

    The pro marriage redefinition lobby are a big brute bully punching down a smaller opponent.”

    Yeah, nasty old bullying lobby groups. We should legislate for equality of lobbying power. In the future Federated Farmers and the Vegan Animal Rights lobby must be provided with equal status and resources, otherwise we would be condoning ‘bullying’. Same goes for the Kaikoura Flying Saucer Society and the National Party.

    “It’s like being adrift at sea with no reference points, nothing firm to hold on to. They yearn for an earlier time when things were clear and simple.”

    There never was a time like that – just that the state and its acolytes were much better at pretending things were like that, highly skilled at pretending things weren’t happening that were, looking the other way and putting telescopes to their blind eyes.

    So far as I know, the post-modern era, with its diversity, odd cultural juxtapositions, and lack of secure reference points, was up and running by 480 BC.

    “… as we are now discovering after Labour/greens rule of terror for 10 years.”

    I’m not sure what happened in those ten years as I spent it hiding under a wet mattress. Could you fill me in?

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  24. You gotta laugh and the incoherence of the modern liberal left, I think hypocrisy and irony must get to a certain high level where it suddenly becomes invisible to them.
    Then again, perhaps I am being to kind, because they could just be collectively bat shit crazy I guess.

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  25. “You gotta laugh and the incoherence of the modern liberal left..”

    I often do, but I think you meant ‘at the incoherence…’.

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  26. Stop protesting about the removal of those old fashioned podocarps Sam, they are out of date and ‘traditionalist’, it’s not as if they are mop top robinia’s or anything.

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  27. You guys are like those delightful individuals that kick over sandcastles on the beach and when the sandcastle builder objects you scream: “well the bloody tide was going to take them eventually ya traditionalist loser, so STFU!!”

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  28. I guess if ‘old’ = bad, you don’t have a problem with miners knocking over old podocarp forests on the West coast? Maybe, just maybe, some people equate tradition with preservation, endurance, durability, well being.

    What, with forests being something that grew quite nicely without our help, and the other being something that mankind invented at some point.

    I don’t have any such notion that “‘old’ = bad”. Old is, simply, old. Old is a historical fact. It simply is. Whether something is bad or not is a value judgement made by people.

    So I have no confusion in what I know and believe. But Shunda is sending mixed messages.

    What a narrow minded, simplistic, ignorant world view you hold.

    Thanks for setting me straight. So let me return the complement.

    We live in a democracy in which generally things get decided by a consensus of sorts. Its not perfect, but it works less badly than other forms of decision making.

    The pro marriage redefinition lobby are a big brute bully punching down a smaller opponent.

    Absolute balderdash. There is a difference of views, and one view will prevail. There’s no “bullying”.

    In any difference of views there will be winners and losers. The winners always say the process worked and we got the right result, the losers always cry foul. That’s life.

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  29. “Stop protesting about the removal of those old fashioned podocarps Sam, they are out of date and ‘traditionalist’…”

    I don’t recall criticising anything on the basis of it being old or traditional.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 (-1)

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