A poll by Curia Market Research has found that six years on from the passing of the same-sex marriage law, there is still strong support for New Zealanders to be free to have a traditional view of marriage, and to exercise that conviction in the public space. This goes in contrast to recent examples where marriage celebrants and a Warkworth baker have suffered the consequences of expressing their personal view of marriage.
In the independent polling of 1,000 New Zealanders by Curia Market Research, commissioned by Family First NZ:
- 61% said that marriage celebrants should not be required to perform same-sex weddings if these go against their personal convictions. 31% said they should.
- 59% said they supported faith-based organisations including mosques and temples not being required to host same-sex weddings in their buildings. 31% said they should have to.
- 59% said service providers such as photographers and caterers should not be required to supply their services to same-sex weddings if these go against their personal conviction. 35% said they should.
- 45% said that faith-based schools – whether, Christian, Jewish or Moslem – should not be required to teach that same sex marriages are equal to the marriage of a man and a woman. 44% said they should be.
Support for freedom of conscience was highest amongst National, NZ First, Green and minor party supporters, and lowest amongst Labour supporters.
The polling comes after a Warkworth baker politely refused a request to make a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage and was threatened with legal action, and almost 50 marriage celebrant applications were rejected because the applicants were unwilling to officiate at same-sex weddings. The Celebrants Association of NZ has told current celebrants in a recent newsletter that “Independent Marriage Celebrants who refuse to marry couples because they are the same gender, will lose their registration.”
This flies directly in the face of assurances made by Labour MP Louisa Wall when she introduced the bill to Parliament and said ‘…What my bill does not do is require any person… to carry out a marriage if it does not fit with the beliefs of the celebrant.’ The report of the Government Administration Select Committee considering the bill at the time stated: ‘It is our intention that the passage of this bill should not impact negatively upon people’s religious freedoms… it does not seek to interfere with people’s religious freedoms.’”
Politicians should deliver on assurances given at the time of the passing of the law redefining marriage and explicitly state in law that freedom of conscience for celebrants, venue and service providers, and faith-based schools is protected.
This law currently provides a culture of coercion. Politicians who support the right of freedom of belief and conviction should fix the anomaly. Marriage between one man and one woman remains a perfectly legitimate and reasonable point of view, as indeed it has been for millennia. Service providers, marriage celebrants and faith-based schools who believe in traditional marriage should not be forced to directly violate their moral or religious convictions.
The Australian government has recently accepted a recommendation from the Ruddock review into religious freedom to amend their Charities Act to ensure that groups who say marriage is between a man and a woman are not stripped of their charitable status.
The nationwide poll was carried out during December and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.