Recently we have seen some New Zealand party leaders and MPs come out in support of same-sex marriage – albeit often with qualifications. When I interviewed politicians in my Vote Chat series last year, I asked them about this issue, and their responses can be viewed on YouTube. In the blog post below, I summarise their responses and provide links through to the particular video clips where they give their views on gay marriage. I also roughly rank the various politicians who participated in Vote Chat – from those that were most enthusiastic in supporting marriage equality through to those that clearly oppose allowing same-sex couples to marry. [Read more below]
Kevin Hague (Greens) strongly favours gay marriage – watch here
Hague is ‘not in a civil union, and probably wouldn’t choose to get married’ if he had the right to, but nonetheless is strongly in favour of the ability of same-sex couples to get married. Interestingly, he puts forward two ways to achieve this, saying the ‘Easiest way of doing that is to extend the Marriage Act to incorporate same-sex couples’, ‘Or repeal the Marriage Act’ – essentially abolishing marriage in favour of civil unions for everyone. Hague expresses disappointment that the Labour Party is weak on gay marriage because although it has an official policy of ‘modernising marriage’ it will leave MPs to individually make up their own minds about how to vote on the issue (‘So if you have a policy, but your MPs are free to vote against it, I don’t know what it means). Hague says that, in contrast, ‘All Greens MPs would vote for that [legislation allowing for same-sex marriage] as a matter of policy’.
Stephen Whittington (Act candidate; unelected) strongly favours gay marriage – watch here
Whittington says he favours allowing gay marriage ‘Absolutely’. He says that there is a legitimate debate around how you go about achieving that, and raises the question of whether there should be both civil unions and marriage, or just one institution? He would prefer that the state should recognise just one institution. He says that the best way to achieve that would be to abolish the institution of marriage and allow everyone to have civil unions.
Annette King (Labour) favours gay marriage – watch here
King was very definite about supporting marriage being opened up to same-sex couples: ‘I certainly do. I do not see why we would deny a loving couple who had a relationship that they wanted to make a long-lasting one in a marriage, why we would deny them.… I would vote for gay marriage’. She said: ‘I see it as a human rights issues’. When asked ‘Why doesn’t the Labour Party have a policy on this?’, King explained that ‘There are still those within the caucus who will demand a conscience vote on such issues’.
Clare Curran (Labour) favours gay marriage – watch here
Curran says she sees it as ‘a human rights issue’ and that she finds it ‘extraordinary that we’re still having these discussions’.
Catherine Delahunty (Greens) supports gay marriage – watch here
Delahunty says ‘We’re into it. It’s a human right’.
David Shearer (Labour) unequivocally favours gay marriage – watch here
David Shearer gave an unequivocal response in favour of allowing gay marriage, which contrasts with his more recent tweet saying ‘I fully support marriage equality in principle but would like to see the detail of any legislation before giving formal support’.
Holly Walker (Greens) favour gay marriage – watch here
Walker says she favours full gay marriage (and is herself in a civil union).
Carol Beaumont (Labour; not re-elected) favours gay marriage but it’s not high on her priority list – watch here
Beaumont says she’d ‘support people campaign for it’ but personally has other political issues to pursue.
Grant Robertson (Labour) personally favours allowing gay marriage but stresses Labour’s more ambiguous approach of ‘modernising relationship law’ – watch here
Robertson says that ‘The Labour Party policy is for full equality’ and ‘We are going to modernise relationship law’. But within this modernisation policy, Robertson cautiously stresses that Labour sees many options short of full access for same-sex couples to marriage: ‘The easiest way to do that will be to open marriage up to everybody. But we also live in a world where people want the choice. Some people want civil unions to be the choice, because they don’t even want the connotations of marriage’.
Heather Roy (ex-Act MP; not re-elected) would vote in favour of gay marriage but is happy with status quo – watch here
She would vote in favour of gay marriage, but thinks most people would be happy with the status quo. Advocates the state stays out of issues of marriage and relationships [a libertarian position argued for by the likes of Ron Paul]. Roy also thinks this issue should be decided by be a public referendum. And she wouldn't campaign in favour.
Rahui Katene (Maori Party; not re-elected) is undecided – watch here
Katene says she would consider voting for gay marriage. She says that marriage is a very important institution, but when prompted said she would consider voting for legislation allowing gay marriage. However she was also of the view that civil unions have taken care of the need for same-sex marriage.
Simon Bridges (National) is undecided – watch here
Bridges says he’s ‘Not sure’ about allowing gay marriage. He says ‘I’m hedging my bets, but I’d want to think about that’. He adds that in terms of civil unions, ‘I’m relaxed about that’.
David Cunliffe (Labour) has a policy on gay marriage that amounts to: ‘No’ for now, ‘maybe’ for later – watch here
Cunliffe said ‘I strongly support civil unions, and I strongly support the equalisation of property and other rights for civil union couples’. But in terms of changes to marriage, he said ‘We have to be guided by public opinions’. He admitted that his policy on allowing gay marriage could be characterised as: ‘No’ for now, ‘maybe’ for later.
Hone Harawira (Mana) is not enthusiastic about gay marriage – watch here
Harawira defends his reluctance to support gay marriage, saying ‘I might be politically radical, but morally I’m very conservative’. He bristles at the argument that same-sex couples have a human right to get married, saying that ‘Marriage is not a human right… Marriage is a privilege’, and ‘Whether a man is allowed to marry a women or a man, I don’t necessarily think that’s a issue of human rights’. He also explains that ‘I’m not a great fan of society of huge choice’
Peter Dunne (United Future) opposes gay marriage – watch here
Dunne says that gay marriage is not necessary because of the existence of civil unions: ‘Don’t see necessarily a distinction between civil unions and gay marriage’; ‘fundamentally the same thing’. ‘The issue really comes to access to rights… which our Relationships Act gives us at the moment. Whether it be a marriage or a civil union’. He originally opposed civil unions, but now says, ‘One of my big regrets in politics has been ever opposing that. I think that’s worked pretty well’. And: ‘I’m therefore quite relaxed about leaving things as they are’.
Winston Peters (NZ First) doesn’t support gay marriage – watch here
Peters defends his opposition to allowing same-sex couples to marry by stressing that a lot of gay people that he talks to aren’t actually in favour of it, and they say ‘I don’t want to be caught in some sort of matrimonial association’; ‘Privately telling me, whatever you do, don’t do this’. He also questions that it’s a human right: ‘If it’s a human right, you need to tell me where that human right came from’. Peters would prefer a public referendum to decide the issue: ‘The question is what does the public want?’
Bill English (National) does not favour gay marriage, saying that civil unions make it unnecessary – watch here
English says he’s changed his view on civil unions, and is ‘relaxed about civil unions’. He stresses that gay community is not simply in favour of getting married.
Tim Macindoe (National) opposes gay marriage – watch here
Macindoe clearly states that he is ‘Against gay marriage’ and that his ‘personal view is that marriage is between a man and a women’. But he qualifies this by saying that he ‘appreciate[s] the fact that gay couples have an absolute legal right to enjoy the protection of their interests’.