MPs Confirm Coercion Over Conscience on Gay Marriage

Media Release 28 March 2013
Family First NZ says that at the same time as politicians reject a referendum of the people and demand a conscience vote, they have confirmed that the same-sex marriage bill will not protect the consciences of places of faith from having to host ‘same-sex weddings’ if their facilities are available to the general public, and the consciences of marriage registrars and marriage celebrants who are not part of approved mainline churches or approved organisations who will not be lawfully able to refuse a request to marry a same-sex couple by reason of the same-sex of the couple.

“This is totally different to what Labour MP Louisa Wall promised when she introduced the Bill to Parliament. She said ‘…What my Bill does not do is require any person or Church to carry out a marriage if it does not fit with the beliefs of the celebrant or the religious interpretation a church has.’ The proposed Select Committee amendment contains no protection for an independent marriage celebrant or registrar, and the personal conviction or beliefs of celebrants from approved organisations will not be protected unless the organisation holds the same view,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“This Bill will provide a culture of coercion whereby celebrants or registrars that don’t fall within the exemptions will not be lawfully able to refuse to perform a same-sex marriage by reason of the same-sex of the couple. This proposed Select Committee amendment undercuts Louisa Wall’s assurances to Parliament, and provides a much narrower exemption than that provided by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act which states that everybody has the right of freedom of religion and belief, and the right to manifest that belief or view.”

The Select Committee acknowledges in its own report (pg4) that the exemption will only apply to 1/3’rd of all marriages (22,000 p.a.) conducted in New Zealand.

“Once again, the debate last night also failed to address some key issues of the bill including the major impact on adoption laws that this bill will have, yet the changes will be weakening the rights of the child in favour of pandering to the demands of adults,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“The Select Committee process has been shameful as they have attempted to ram this bill through at speed, and thorough and appropriate debate for such a major social change has been shut down in the interests of expediency.”

SUMMARY of Legal Opinion

Q1: Will marriage celebrants, marriage registrars and ministers of religion (who are also marriage celebrants) be forced to solemnise same-sex ‘marriages’ even if to do so would be contrary to the religious beliefs of the marriage celebrants, marriage registrars and ministers of religion?

PROTECTED

(a) A marriage celebrant (who is a minister of religion recognised by a religious body enumerated in Schedule 1) or a celebrant (who is a person nominated to solemnise marriages by an approved organisation) will be able lawfully to refuse to solemnise a marriage if solemnizing that marriage would contravene the religious beliefs of the religious body or the religious beliefs or philosophical or humanitarian convictions of the approved organisation.

NOT PROTECTED

(b) A marriage celebrant (who is a minister of religion recognised by a religious body enumerated in Schedule 1) or a celebrant (who is a person nominated to solemnise marriages by an approved organisation) will not be able lawfully to refuse to solemnise a marriage if the religious body or the approved organisation endorsed same sex marriage.

UNCLEAR

(c) It is unclear what will be the position of a marriage celebrant (who is a minister of religion recognised by a religious body enumerated in Schedule 1) or a celebrant (who is a person nominated to solemnise marriages by an approved organisation), where the approved religious body or organisation is split on the issue of same sex marriage or refuses to adopt an official position on the issue.

NOT PROTECTED

(d) (i) Independent marriage celebrants (ie who are not celebrants within (a) above) will not lawfully be able to refuse to solemnise a same sex marriage even if solemnising that marriage would contravene their religious beliefs or conscience.

(ii) Marriage registrars will not lawfully be able to refuse to solemnise a same sex marriage even if solemnising that marriage would contravene their religious beliefs or conscience.

Q2: Will temples, mosques, synagogues, churches and other places of worship be required to be used to solemnise same-sex ‘marriages’?
NOT PROTECTED

(e) Church ministers, marriage celebrants, church elders (or persons or entity) supplying their churches (or temples or mosques or synagogues) to the public will be in breach of the Human Rights Act 1993 and acting unlawfully, if they refuse to supply their churches to a couple seeking to be married, by reason of the same sex of the couple..

ENDS

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