Brian Edwards Media

Could a reasonable person or a decent human being have voted against the Marriage Amendment Bill?

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Question: Could a reasonable person or a decent human being have voted against the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill?

Tom Scott’s cartoon would seem to suggest that only dinosaurs – ancient, stupid and rather ugly creatures – could have charged mindlessly in where angels feared to tread.

The cartoon interested me because it reflected the Janus-like quality of so much liberal thinking: permissive of almost everything except contrary points of view.

So let’s look as some specific areas.

The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, as its title so unambiguously stated, was a bill to change the legal definition of marriage. Could a reasonable person, a decent human being find cause  to object to that?

I would have thought so. Changing the legal definitions of words is always a serious business and no more serious than when those definitions refer to longstanding human institutions and are enshrined in a multitude of laws, contracts and traditions.

You don’t have to be a dinosaur to say, ‘When you change the meaning of a word, you simultaneously change the reality to which that word refers, a reality which in this particular case has existed for thousands of years  in myriad cultures.’

You’ll note that I’m not saying that opposition to the legislation is right. What I’m saying is that it expresses the natural discomfort that an entirely reasonable person, a decent human being, could be expected to feel when they are required to redefine not merely a common word but their lifelong and previously unambiguous understanding of the meaning of that word. I’m saying that it is understandable.  

Let’s move into even more fraught territory. Could a reasonable person, a decent human being,  find cause to object to same sex couples being legally allowed to adopt children? In a post which I wrote four years ago, I gave it as my view that, unless one of the couple was the child’s natural parent, I was opposed to such legislation.

My reasons were founded  in my own experience of never having had a father. I subscribed essentially to the view that, all things being equal, kids need role models of both sexes, but particularly of their own sex.

Again, I’m not saying that position was or is right. I’m saying that it is a tenable position for a reasonable person, a decent human being to take. You don’t have to be a dinosaur, stupid, homophobic or morally reprehensible.

I was called all of those things by many of those who commented on my views on gay adoption.

It is a fact that there are certain social groups with whom it can be hazardous to one’s health to take issue. At my most rational I can see that they are generally groups who have been the victims of historic and sometimes ongoing discrimination. But vilifying those who disagree with you seems to me a poor argument for tolerance.

On the whole this has not been the case in the current debate. But I suspect that in recent weeks it will have become more difficult for those who opposed the redefinition of marriage or the almost certain prospect of more liberal gay adoption laws to confidently express that view.

To a degree this will have reflected the re-framing of the debate away from the strictly legal or human rights issues, to a highly emotive discourse that invited those who opposed the legislation to cast themselves in the role of zealots, devoid of the most basic human sympathies. The key phrase in this re-framing was ‘loving couples’. It dominated the parliamentary debates and the public discourse. If you opposed the legislation you were, ipso facto,  against ‘loving couples’ whom you wished to deprive of happiness. You were a bad person.

About ten years ago I had one of the best evenings of my life. I was drinking with five gay male friends at Valerio’s Italian restaurant in Parnell. Rather a lot of red wine followed by rather a lot of grappa. The company was wonderful, the humour delicious. I loved those guys. But – and I need to stress that it would never have happened – if one of them had made a sexual approach to me I would have been repelled. I’m exclusively heterosexual. It’s not my fault. I was born that way.

So can a reasonable, decent human being be discomfited by or find distasteful  the sexual practices of those with a different gender orientation? Absolutely. And it works both ways.

Things go wrong when that discomfort, that distaste is translated into prejudice or hatred.

For the record, had I been a Member of Parliament I would have voted in favour of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill.

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92 Comments:

  1. I thought it was an easy vote because the heterosexual population of New Zealand, statistically speaking, appears to hold little value in the “institution of marriage”, therefore, changing the definition of marriage would not be all that difficult. I thought all the tearful rah-de rah, “proud to be a New Zealander” post vote self-congratulating was a bit over the top as well- as I said, since marriage is not particularly valued, morally, religiously or legally in this country, why not give “the right to do so” away as freely as one might give an extra MacDonald’s happy meal toy away? On the plus side, giving gay people the right to participate in what is more of a religious ceremony than anything else, is an interesting way to by-pass the customs and mores of a particular religious culture- now it is up to churches & tenples to be the bad guy if they refuse couples this “sacred tradition”. I say it was a cheap and easy popularity vote, and whilst I would have voted “yes” as well- I take a cynical view on all the back-patting about giving away something most New Zealanders clearly place little value on.

  2. Hey Brian

    Thanks for an interesting read. I thinks it’s fair to say a reasonable, decent human might be discomfited by or find distasteful the sexual practices of either gender orientation. The nocturnal activities of many straight couples, loving or not, might be too grotesque for some to conjure with. Happily for all, it remains their private and consensual business. If my imagination chooses to wander into the ‘erogenous zone’ of other people’s bedrooms (or lounges or bathrooms or gazebos), that’s an issue for me to deal with, not them.

    All the best

    Simon

    PS Sorry to hear about your exclusive heterosexuality. Keep using the ointment.

    • I’m curious why potentially “grotesque” activities have to be nocturnal. Can’t you do it in daylight?

  3. Excellent critique, Brian. I have long noted the propensity of the Left to assume the moral high ground and pour vilification down from it.

    While I share your concern about missing fathers it is of course by no means confined to homosexual parents so cannot justify discrimination against them.

    And of course extremist hostility occurred on both sides – as Maurice Williamson’s examples illustrated.

  4. I oppose the Bill as it stands.
    If two people of the same sex want to form a legal relationship with all the rights, obligations and privileges of marriage then I have no objection. In fact, I’d be very happy for them.
    Just don’t call it “marriage” because marriage is between a man and a woman.
    We’ve already lost “queer” and “gay”. Let’s not lose “marriage” as well.
    Just call it something else.

    By the way, I see your ghost is no longer writing: you must have been resurrected. Took longer than three days, though.

    • Thanks for drawing my attention to that. That bastard always tries to steal my stuff.

    • 4.2

      How terrible that we have lost “queer” and “gay”. “Those people”, with their clear inferiority, have tainted the vocabulary so that we can’t apply the words with alternative semantic value as we do countless other words in the English language.

      Like straight.

      Bemusing that so many of the words like queer are actually those that the mainstream use to structure oddity, otherness and difference. Who lost what? Some people their dignity or their taunters a word?

      It all depends on your bent, I suppose.

      And of course, because “those people” are of a lesser order, their very inclusion in the state of marriage diminishes it, in the way that the Southern States once believed that a black and white union was tantamount to social decay and dissolution. Perhaps those august legislators ought to have found another label for mixed race unions when such marriages gained recognition?

      • 4.2.1

        I’m glad Peter Rowlands agrees that it’s terrible we’ve lost “queer” and “gay”. Who are “those people”, though? I’m sure I didn’t write that.
        Did I mention “inferiority”?
        Did I write that “‘those people’ are of a lesser order”?
        I did write, however that “I’d be very happy for them” in their non-marriage legal relationship
        Don’t put words in my mouth to support your argument; if it can’t stand without that, then it fails.
        This is a typical “If you’re not for us, you’re agin us.” comment.
        There is a middle ground and I believe that’s where I stand. PR does not and I’m not sure I want him near me. And that’s not because of his sexual orientation, whatever that may be.
        Incidentally, we asked a homosexual man to be godfather to our son. He refused saying, “I’m not a Christian, get someone who can do a proper job.”
        Oh dear! now I’ve equated homosexuality with godlessness.

        • 4.2.1.1

          Suddenly the analysis of subtext gets hijacked as a personal attack. Irony buried. How have we lost the words gay or queer? Just how?

          • 4.2.1.1.1

            I’m afraid the subtlety of PR’s comment was quite lost on me and I dislike being classed as homophobic or having words put in my mouth.
            If, indeed, the comment was not a personal attack, then: pax?

            On the loss of words, I for one would not wander into a bar singing “A bachelor gay am I” and there are many eccentric people who would object most strenuously to being called “queer”.
            Just what is wrong with calling the legal relationship something other than “marriage”? That’s all I ask! The language is changing fast enough without any help.

    • You forgot we’ve almost lost ‘hero’ too!

      As soon as the gays got to be accepted they were glad to be gay and rejoyced their alternative lifestyle. Suddenly, they want to be the same as the rest of us?

      What the hell’s going on here? I suspect all this marriage crap is just to stick one up society, and though I suspect otherwise, I hope kids don’t get adopted just to embrace that attitude. As far as I know there are far more het couples seeking to adopt than there are babies up for grabs, so I shall be VERY suspicious of the rationale of those who offer the first gay couple an adoptee.

  5. PPS: Isn’t it possible for reasonable people or decent human beings to be flat out wrong? –

    – Thomas Jefferon was a reasonable, decent person
    – Thomas Jefferson owned slaves
    – Owning slaves is reasonable and decent

    • Undoubtedly. That really isn’t the question. The question is whether being ‘flat out wrong’ on a particular issue makes you a less reasonable or decent person. I’d also suggest that in subjective issues of personal morality ‘flat out wrong’ or ‘absolutely right’ are inappropriate terms.

      • 5.1.1

        I agree that everyone is entitled to their own prejudices. I reject that anyone has the right to inflict these on others. There is nothing decent or reasonable about the inequitable application of the law based on subjective morality. I would submit that being flat out wrong on a particular issue can make you a less reasonable or decent person if not a war criminal(cf the Holocaust; Apartheid). I understand that the Irish were once outcast in the US purely for being Irish. Sometimes,as Oscar Wilde once said, one must call a spade a spade. Denying people rights according to sexual orientation, including the right to marry, is what it is: bigotry.

        • Simon, it seems to me that you may be just the sort of vilifier that Brian was talking about.
          I wonder how often you use ‘denier’, ‘prejudiced’ or ‘bigot’ to dismiss people with opposing views.

          • 5.1.1.1.1

            What words would you use to describe inequal application of the law based on race, religion, gender or sexual orientation? ‘Decent’ and ‘reasonable’ are not the first that come to my mind.

    • In Jerrefson’s day it was perfectly normal for reasonable, decent people to own slaves. What’s wrong with that? Are you attempting to relate 21st Century morals to 19th Century society?

      Tit. They used to burn witches.

      • 5.2.1

        No Zinc, I am attempting to expunge 19th Century morals from 21st Century society. Decent reasonable people did a lot of things that are no longer considered decent and resonable. But times change. Slavery is now considered an abomination. Women can now vote. African-Americans can now vote (or marry a person of another ethnicity). Homosexuality is no longer a crime. Today, denying people equal rights under the law according to their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation is not considered decent and reasonable, it is deemed unlawful. Though everyone is entitled to their own views, in this instance, the law no longer supports inflicting them on others.

  6. I’m with Winston Peters call for a referendum on this one. Fancy allowing a bunch of greasy vote seeking politicians decide on such an issue that concerns us all. Civil Union yes, but don’t denigrate the sacrament of Marriage by using the word in regard to the union of same sex couples.

    • 6.1

      Edward, I’ve seen far, far worse desecration of marriage from heterosexual couples than I expect to see from most homosexual ones.

      And, AFAIK, the referendum would have supported the Bill but there must always be room to protect minorities from the votes and discrimination of majorities.

      • “Edward, I’ve seen far, far worse desecration of marriage from heterosexual couples than I expect to see from most homosexual ones.”

        Hardly surprising, since homosexual unions are going to be in the minority.

    • I agree with Alan , using referendum asking the majority to make a call on the rights of a minority is a risky proposition.

      And not all those pollies are greasy vote seekers.

      Ironically Winstone Peters came the closest to vote seeking politics by voting against the bill but calling for a referendum , just to make he didn’t lose to many gay freindly votes.

    • Some people think marriage is so sacred they do it five or six or seven times. Others believe that a word (marriage)has more rights than a person.

      • I’m sure in 40 years time you’ll find plenty of gays who’ve been married 5 or 6 times too. Apparently they’re the same as the rest of us.

  7. ‘The question is whether being ‘flat out wrong’ on a particular issue makes you a less reasonable or decent person. ‘
    I suppose one could be as pleasant and reasonable as one wants…when determining that some folk won’t be able to access the full range of rights and privileges we accord everyone else.

  8. Hi Brain, I was on your show back in the 70’s talking about Transgender. I like your article & even though no longer living in NZ so please to see yur still around. Cheers Pindi .

  9. If we want to look at marriage as a human right then every adult person gay or straight already had that right. The fact that they did not want to marry someone of the opposite sex meant that they did not want marriage. Along came civil unions which gave people all the legal protection that marriage did. sorted. But no not good enough.I think I am a decent reasonable person and I see gay people as equal to myself . I certainly don’t think they choose it any more than we choose to be male or female. I would have voted against this bill and as far as I’m concerned nothing has changed. They can go through all the ceremonies they want but it won’t be marriage because I don’t believe 77 morons have the right to trash something so time-honoured as this without reference to the people. I would like to see this challenged in a court of law.

    • “civil unions which gave people all the legal protection that marriage did”
      Actually that is not entirely true.
      Civil Unions only apply to NZ , whereas NZ marriages are legal in many other countries.
      They don’t automatically affect your will
      Civil union couples cannot adopt children only married couples can.

    • ’77 morons’. That’s really the sort of approach I’m complaining of. No-one who watched the Third Reading of the Bill could have dismissed its supporters as ‘morons’. Almost all were highly articulate, thoughtful and, in several cases extremely moving. I’m not sure that I support the idea of a referendum. We have elected 121 MPs to be our representatives until November 2014. A significant majority of them voted for the passing of the Marriage Amendment Bill. That’s democracy. The suggestion that the electorate should have the opportunity to revisit by way of referendum every decision of Parliament that they disagree with strikes me as less than sensible.

      • 9.2.1

        ” The suggestion that the electorate should have the opportunity to revisit by way of referendum every decision of Parliament that they disagree with strikes me as less than sensible. ” Well in that case the Swiss are ” less than sensible ” by your reasoning, because that is exactly what they do. Rightly so in my opinion, and the predictable passing of this Bill is a very good argument for giving the voting public exactly that opportunity to test the desirability of the decisions of a handful of temporarily empowered politicians. Now THAT would be democracy at work. The passing of this Bill was not.

      • MPs are paid their over-generous salaries to represent the views of their constituents, not their own prejudices. There should be referenda on all fundamental changes to legislation and major policy shifts such as asset sales. That would be democracy. At present we have three years of dictatorship and a solitary day of democracy at the end of it.

    • 9.3

      It has already been noted that civil unions do not afford the same rights as marriage.

      I get confused, very confused. How on earth is marriage “trashed” by the inclusion of lesbians and gay men (unless you believe they are a lesser or malign force).

      To argue that all people had access to marriage is patently absurd – marriage assumed a sexual predisposition which excluded some unless they made a choice against their nature willfully, in ignorance or with a lack of integrity.

      That 77 people in Parliament recognised that inequity does not make them moronic, however reasonable and decent the writer posits herself to be (and here “outraged of Tunbridge Wells” comes to mind).

      Why is it that to give a small number of people access to something they previously had no right to is somehow to diminish it for those others who clearly continue to hold that same right?

    • 9.4

      And I believed I was the only one who thought that way. Well said, Rosie.

    • Hear hear, Rosie.

  10. “expresses the natural discomfort that an entirely reasonable person, a decent human being”
    I agree Brian its a shame those not in favor of this bill will be shunted into the dinosaur camp . On the other hand some of the anti bill propaganda put out was not at all consistent with entirely reasonable or decent human beings. Quite the opposite.

    • Yes. I don’t really think that the change in the law will lead to polygamy or incest.

      • Or the decline of western civilization as we know it.

        • “Big Buddy mentoring works on the simple philosophy that boys need good male role models in their lives to become good men. For many reasons, lots of boys in New Zealand don’t have a father and while mothers do a courageous job raising boys alone, they can’t model maleness. And above all else, boys learn through modelling!”
          http://www.bigbuddy.org.nz/about-bigbuddy/meet-the-team/

          Looks like you are going to be busy in the future. As CEO of a growing industry you’ve got it made.

          • We have been busy for 10 years Edward. I am inferring you think this bill will lead to a big increase in fatherless boys. I doubt that very much. The vast majority of boys we help come from normal hetero marriages or defacto relationships. Its the break down of relationships that keeps us busy.
            And yes boys from Lesbian couples need male role models, and usually get them. Most of the lesbian couples I have come across are well aware of that.

  11. No certainly not a referendum for every decision but some decisions that people feel very strongly about deserve one surely.I think the pro-bill faction realised it probably wouldn’t go their way. apparently the same sex marriages will not be legal in a lot of countries either.

    • ‘… apparently the same sex marriages will not be legal in a lot of countries either.’ I think that’s right. Same-sex marriage is not legal in Australia, which is why marriage celebrants here are looking forward to an influx of couples from across the ditch. But this may not be entirely the point. The overseas couples who get married here will leave with a marriage certificate which they will no doubt consider sufficient evidence of their long-term commitment to one another.

  12. Brian

    Being reasonable as an MP requires being well-informed.

    I submit that it would be unreasonable of an MP to vote against a Bill which ended the prohibition on marriage that many trans people have inflicted on them by the interplay between the BDMRR Act and an unfortunate High Court case called A-G v Otahuhu Family Court. That’s right, many trans people are not allowed to marry anyone because of the current law.

    Only a dinosaur would vote against a change that would allow a significant class of trans people to marry. Only an unreasonable (and lazy) MP would vote against the bill without knowing the current shameful state of the law that forbids competent adults from marriage. There are trans people out there who, to be able to travel unmolested, had to change their passports to reflect their gender expression. To get documents that ensure their safety, married trans people have to end their marriages. What kind of reasonable person would vote against a bill that put an end to that discrimination?

    At the risk of sounding prudish, I find some sexual practices unappealing. That doesn’t mean for a moment that I think sodomites (heterosexual or homosexual) should be precluded from marriage. My reason is simple: it’s none of my damn business.

    As for changing the meaning of words – language is always evolving. The word “married” is often used to describe the pairing of items. Things get “married-up” and often they’re not people! Indeed I often read about things that are “mated” to each other, despite them not being people nor animals. Marriage doesn’t have an unarguable single meaning. Dinosaurs, might have lived long enough to appreciate the evolution of language had they not failed to adapt to the changing world.

    Brian, you’re living proof that the lack of a father figure doesn’t preclude a person from having a productive and fulfilling life. While I’m not suggesting that an absent father is a good thing, they clearly aren’t necessary.

    I think that while it’s important for the victors to be kind to the vanquished, there is also a need for those on the losing side of the argument to breath through their noses and demonstrate they are not prehistoric reptiles, but sentient humans who can adapt to change and graciously accept being told “no”. It seems much is still being written and said by the naysayers. I’m all in favour of opinions, but there is a time and a place. Those who are crying the blues about the departed horse while looking at the open gate are in the wrong place at the wrong time and need to accept this. They should, in my view, stop wasting their breath and rush back to their nuclear heterosexual families and brace themselves for the gay onslaught!

    • In your first two paragraphs you’ve raised a new and disturbing aspect of this issue which I’m not well enough informed about to comment. I’ll do some research.

      I agree that what we do in the bedroom, providing it’s consensual, is nobody else’s business.

      But I can’t agree with this:

      “Brian, you’re living proof that the lack of a father figure doesn’t preclude a person from having a productive and fulfilling life. While I’m not suggesting that an absent father is a good thing, they clearly aren’t necessary.”

      At a surface level your comment about my living a productive and fulfilling life is correct. But at a psychological level the absence of a father inhibited and prevented me from living such a life. For a boy, the presence of a father or father-figure in childhood IS, in my experience, absolutely necessary.

      • Nevertheless there is a large body of rigorous peer reviewed scientific literature that does not support this claim. I wont bore you with this literature, but it is summed up pretty accurately in the Wikipedia page: ‘http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_parenting’, which states in part: ‘Scientific research has been generally consistent in showing that gay and lesbian parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents… Major associations of mental health professionals in the U.S., Canada, and Australia have not identified credible empirical research that suggests otherwise.’

        • So David – whilst the subject in hand is marriage, not adoption, are you telling us that for baby boys being raised to adulthood in families where the norm is two older men sharing the same bed, indulging in displays of affection, and where social gatherings are usually of 10 or 20 men and (presumably) no women, the kids will grow into hetrosexual, culturally and socially normal male adults? Can you (or anyone) prove this, with a sample greater than one?

          You can’t stop lesbians getting pregnant and God help the kids, but gay adoption is making the bizarre totally freaky.

          • So Zinc – All I am doing is stating what the science, and a large body of robust scientific data, shows. Perhaps you could refer me to the body of scientific data and evidence that supports your own distinctly homophobic views.

  13. I was interested that Chris Finlayson opposed the legislation, someone with more than enough reason to support it.

    I imagine many of the arguments used now were used when homosexuality was legalised. The same arguments were used with the passing of civil union legislation. I cannot see the world coming to an end about this either.

    It was sad that the opposition was hijacked to some extent by looney tunes.

  14. 14

    I largely agree with Brian, which is a bit or a worry. My upbringing and religious affiliation traditionally placed me in opposition to the Bill, but I have moved. I do feel that many mature people feel uncomfortable and have been reviled into silence. That is a pity and the media have not treated them well, Ian Wishart does not represent them at all. No more do the Catholic Bishops.

  15. This debate is about taking an idea or a thing (perhaps a cat) and then redefining it so that it describes something else (perhaps a dog). If the purpose were to allow the dog to live indoors (by analogy adopt kids etc) then one could have adjusted one’s concept of a dog at the margins to accommodate the change sought.

    But no, the preferred method is to colonise the old concept with the new one.

    In my view this is not about rights. If the rights were the issue then the concept of civil union could have been refined.

    Rather the purpose is to take a particular lifestyle and push it as far into the face of the population at large as possible and dare them to object. Its the legal equivalent of the flamboyance of the Hero Parade. Here it is, this is us, do you dare find fault with it?

    It’s only possible because of the mutant impact of “rights-speak”.

    The psychology of this is interesting. I suspect it has something to do with normalising the lifestyle or at least with so quietening the opposition that no-one need feel uncomfortable.

    But as you hint Brian, the same innate propensities which make some people gay, make others find the lifestyle inherently unattractive. Shutting those views down won’t change the fact and is fundamentally hypocritical.

    • 15.1

      I don’t think it is about rights. I think it is about acceptance. Do you think it would be ok to have civil union the only option for Maori, even if it was re-legislated to have all the rights of marriage?

      • You are right. It is about acceptance but your analogy is poor. Maori are not presently excluded from marriage and marriage is not defined with that in mind, so yes it would be wrong to do what you are proposing.

        A better analogy is this. The change is like less intelligent people seeking the right to join MENSA so that they do not need to feel bad about themselves.

        Firstly it undermines the raison d’etre of the underlying concept. Secondly while delivered in soft voices the change is an intended provocation to the existing members of MENSA, and thirdly it won’t achieve the desired outcome because the differences between the groups don’t disappear just because the rules are changed.

        • 15.1.1.1

          Your analogy is telling. You feel superior to homosexuals while realizing it is no longer acceptable to feel superior to Maori. You find it hard to accept them as equals. You rationalise this as the physical distinction that they cannot naturally procreate but you do not apply the same distinction to infertile heterosexual couples. So you rationalise that as the outcome of a pre-ordained or God-given definition of marriage as being betweens man and a woman.

          Whereas the contrary position is that marriage is a commitment to love and primary life partnership between two people which needs to accommodate all the variations of the human species.

    • 15.2

      The Hero parade? Is that like the flamboyance of the crowd for the Rugby 7s or the ribald and drunken excesses most summer evenings in Lloret del Mar?

      It’s not a matter of finding fault, it is a matter of understanding the deep structuring belief and value systems that people carry, and unpicking them with even handed attention.

      A previous writer notes his discomfort with labels of gay and queer but fails to surface the fact is entirely about the fact that they refer so loudly to homosexuality. If the terms were not pejoratively laden, we wouldn’t even blink to use such words in different contexts – we do it with a myriad of other terms in our language – sometimes with great wit. If humanity were inclusive and sexuality of no prejudicial issue, we would not feel remotely slighted to have our sexuality mistaken.

      I await the same discourse on the word “straight”.

  16. Old Tony you are old and wise. A lot of people have been taken for quite a ride.They don’t even realise it yet because it feels so good.

  17. No Alan Wilkinson, I think that would be a nonsense.

  18. Please don’t be scared. Ghost of BE is a very friendly ghost.

    • 18.1

      Well, call yourself Casper, then. And I not be scared.

    • You’ve been a ghost of your former self for years. Could be a delayed reaction to not having a father figure in your life.

      • 18.2.1

        For heavens sake, Edward, grow up, act as if you had a father yourself and stop spouting puerile, offensive and totally irrelevant and inapplicable crap.

        • The only puerile thing I’ve seen here lately Alan is the blogger who told us he was giving up the “ghost” on blogging and then propmtly returns as a ghost. I’m sure that Brian can defend himself if he feels it necessary and doesn’t need obsequious media acolytes like you coming to his defence.

          • Enough, you two. Remember our policy on personal attack, please.

            • 18.2.1.1.1.1

              Let ‘em keep at it, JC. It’s sort of fun, seeing AW flailing about, wildly, punch-drunk.

            • 18.2.1.1.1.2

              Please tell that to the Gander, who has on many occasions offended against “our policy on personal attack”. It is highly disappointing to see hypocrisy exhibited by an otherwise excellent debating site. A failing memory is no excuse for breaking the rules.

              • Edward, do you think it’s possible that your avatar is creating a false impression of your really cuddly personality?

                • 18.2.1.1.1.2.1.1

                  Do you think you are a “cuddly personality” with your nutty ideas about copyright and libraries and Paul Holmes being a seminal influence on broadcasting? . Obviously not, since you got a good bollocking over those issues and even erased one blog on the well deserved critiscism you got. It’s always the same with you celebs, isn’t it? You want approval. I think it is high time you gave your ego some sedatives and reflect on your own tendency to be a flawed mortal with tendencies to be vain and precious. You can’t deny the fact that you have broken the rules of your own blog site by being blatantly offensive in your replies to commenters you disagree with. I have a great respect for nearly all of your views on things, but find you are inclined towards decline. Either get your act together or give up, before you trash what has almost up to now has been a sterling performance. Just live up to your ideals about being honest and don’t break the rules that you have made for your blog.

                • It is comments like these that make me understand why BE decides periodically to cease this blog.

                  The great delight of this blog has been the civilised and adult nature of the debate. It is why I do not bother with other blogs.

                  Every so often someone comes along who appears determined to ruin this for everyone else.

                  Edward would be ever so kind and go somewhere else?

                • I second all of that, Ben.

                • “It is comments like these that make me understand why BE decides periodically to cease this blog.”

                  Well, that must surely be the most puerile and lamest excuse I have ever heard for someone giving up their blog. Start a blog to express your opinions and invite comments and then get upset because not everybody agrees with you. It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to eh? or I’m going to hold my breath until I go blue in the face. Surely Brian isn’t going into some second childhood.

                  “Edward would be ever so kind and go somewhere else?”

                  Now the irony of that comment is that it is exactly what Brian suggested Alan Wilkinson, should do, because Brian thought he was such a “bore”. Now that may well be the reason why Brian is going to have less to do with his blog.

                • Edward – I make a light-hearted comment in an attempt to defuse this acrimonious debate and this is how you respond. I can see no reason why I should accept this litany of abuse from you on my own website any longer. I won’t.

    • I like Warren’s wraith of BE its so much more poetic

  19. Interestingly, there is a solid argument that the servant of the Roman centurion who Jesus healed was actually his partner. See here http://www.wouldjesusdiscriminate.org/biblical_evidence/gay_couple.html

  20. Does this bill give any further rights to gay people(except the international law Richard Aston mentions).Its only advantage is to, as Old Tony quite rightly states, is acceptance into the society majority. Marriage has for along time been a farce in my eyes and perhaps a re-examination of marriage completely would have been more in order.

  21. 21

    I’m tremendously pleased that while Brian has faded away to spectral insubtantiality, his writing has not. And to think I never believed in ghosts.

    My spell-checker just tried to change insubstantiality to insatiability, a word which might have been wholly appropriate in the context of an article that touches on sexuality, but poorly describes our resident writing wraith.

    • 21.1

      The eagle-eyed among you will spot that, because I ignored the spellchecker, the spelling mistake got through. This proves that my computer is cleverer than me and I should always pay attention to what it is trying to tell me.

  22. I think our MPs made the right call. They could see no compelling reason, and neither can I, why gays and lesbians should be denied the opportunity to endure messy divorces and a lack of sex.

  23. I too was somewhat puzzled by the pro gay marriage bill people who on one hand said that it was no big deal but on the other hand went crazy with joy when it was passed…which was it?
    The thing that struck me about Maurice Williamson’s speech on the bill was that he was happy to ridicle the person who he quoted as saying introducing the bill had caused the drought but I guess he would be happy enough for someone with those sort of opinions to vote for him.
    An MP saying that he couldn’t see just how it would affect him personally is surely negating the arguement that says they are there as MPs representing us all.

    • I agree with your last line Roger. For John Key to say that gay marriage “doesn’t affect my relationship with my wife” as justification for voting for gay marriage is by far the most stupid utterance he has ever made.

      If Key was shagging his labrador, or indulging in swingers parties or snorting coke in a toilet in the Hilton it won’t affect my marriage – but I won’t be voting for it to be legalised either. Tosser.

      • 23.1.1

        Ingenuous. Key was obviously responding to opponents’ claims the change devalues the institution of marriage. As I suspect you well know, so your insult is a boomerang.

  24. “Could a reasonable person or a decent human being have voted against the Marriage Amendment Bill?” I consider myself decent and reasonable, however, I do not like the idea of our language being hijacked. In fact I find it very disrespectful for someone or group to bastardise the meaning of marriage to suggest its definition should be something else. If a same sex couple wants to legalise their relationship then a civil union should be ideal. For thousands of years, whether in tribal or more recently, heterosexual couples have been legally married, predominantly in order to control the potential offspring flow. (obviously there may be other desirable benefits of this union)

    • As pointed out above, it is disturbing that people seem to put the rights of language before the rights of people. Language evolves. Always has, always will.

      And very funny that anti-gay rights people advocate civil unions when just a decade ago they campaigned against them. (Of course I’m not commenting specifically about Johan here. Just a general trend.)

  25. Although, as a good keen liberal-Lefty, I’m happy to support the bill, I was once again more than a little irritated by the number of people – politicians and otherwise – conspicuously striking heroic liberal poses all over the place. More than a few of these would-be moral exemplars were clearly determined to use the occassion to let us all know just how unusually refined and enlightened their sensibilities are. The decidedly muted opposition from the Christian-Conservative brigade must have provided a bit of a hurdle to all this feverish self-congratulation, but these Renaissance Men and Women managed to overcome it through sheer determination, bless them. I hate to say it, but a few too many of my fellow liberals bare a striking resemblance to Rik from ‘The Young Ones’.

    Now, if only the wonderfully erudite and altruistic Maurice Williamson could show the same highly emotional concern for the unemployed and workers on the minimum wage.

  26. It is a pretty poor form of democracy that relies on a bunch of vote-hungry MP’s to ram through fundamental re-definitions of the language and meaning of Marriage.
    The implacable opposition of the Pro lobby to a Referendum is telling.
    Presumably because they were not certain the Proletariat would support them.
    My compliments to “Old Tony” for his contribution -Well Said Sir.

  27. Sticks and Stones

  28. The revelation that Key is bisexual is an anticlimax.

  29. It’s too late now for straight people to reclaim the word ‘marriage’. Those who care will find a way around it. I propose using ‘traditional marriage’ (TM) or ‘holy matrimony’ (HM).

  30. No. A “reasonable person” should by definition be able to apply reason to a situation and not be overwhelmed by prejudice or religion. A “decent human being” is one who is kind and considerate in their thinking towards all other people. Neither would be able to vote against the Marriage Equality Bill if they were guided by reason, reasonableness, decency or humanity.

  31. Human development denotes both the process of widening people’s choices and improving their well-being. The most critical dimensions of human development are: a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living. Additional concerns include social and political freedoms. The concept distinguishes between two sides of human development. One is the formation of human capabilities, such as improved health or knowledge. The other is the enjoyment of these acquired capabilities, for work or for leisure.