“Polygamy and polyamory have been added to the same-sex marriage debate in Australia because the ‘discrimination’ argument being used to argue for allowing same-sex marriage also applies to any number of adults who love each other and want their relationships recognised,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “At the moment, the New Zealand marriage law does discriminate against three or more people getting married, or a married person marrying another person.”
“If the definition of marriage was extended to allow same-sex marriage, and only same-sex marriage, it could then be argued that we are discriminating against those seeking polygamous, polyamorous, or adult incestuous unions – if all that matters is love and commitment. If we are going to have a debate about same-sex marriage and liberalising adoption laws, it is essential that the politicians acknowledge just how far this is going to go, and what relationships will continue to be discriminated against,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Family First NZ has been consistent in arguing for the definition of marriage to be one man and one woman – opposing any redefining of marriage to allow, for example, polygamy, polyamory, same-sex marriage, and other options. The Australian Greens have declared they have a clear policy to discriminate against polyamorous marriage.
A 2002 report from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs said “New Zealand legislation gives a mixed message about what the State counts as family. For example… only the male and one wife from a polygamous family are allowed to immigrate to New Zealand. There is an increasing recognition of the need to avoid enshrining in legislation concepts of family which are exclusive.”
And former Labour party Minister for Social Development and Employment Ruth Dyson in a speech to Victoria University first year Social and Public Policy students in 2008 said “We must cater for the diversity we know exists. By this I mean the range of relationships from single, couples, triples, blended, de facto, and so on. That’s where we’re going with social policy.”
Two government studies released by Canada’s Justice Department in 2006 recommended the decriminalisation of polygamy, with one arguing that the move was justified by the need to attract more skilled Muslim immigrants.
“NZ’ers need to know exactly where the same-sex marriage debate is heading and the political parties should front up with their policies,” says Mr McCoskrie.