Monday, October 04, 2010

Having a say on unfinished business

This morning I checked out the New Zealand Herald online, as I often do, and found a story about the twentieth anniversary of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. It’s indisputably a milestone in New Zealand history, not the least because unlike my homeland—then and now—it banned discrimination against GLBT people.

I read the article, interested, then hit the last sentence: “So the 20th anniversary of the act coming into effect is something of which we can rightly be proud.”


Sure, when it comes to recognising and protecting basic civil and human rights, New Zealand is light years ahead of so many countries—especially my homeland. But there’s SO much unfinished business: Gay and lesbian people still cannot marry in New Zealand. Gay and lesbian couples still cannot adopt—even when one parent is the blood parent. There’s too much work remaining to get all chuffed about what we have. Instead, we should rededicate ourselves to the unfinished business before us.

So, I fired off a comment (following on the comments of others) that the Herald published:
The Bill of Rights Act is quite good and actually goes beyond the US Constitution's "Bill of Rights" (the first ten amendments). For example, New Zealand, unlike the United States, protects the rights of gay and lesbian people.

However, the past three governments have deliberately permitted ignoring the Bill of Rights Act when it comes to gay and lesbian New Zealanders.

The previous National-led government exempted the government from having to obey the Bill of Rights Act with respect to things like the Marriage Act. The Labour-led Government that followed eventually enacted separate-but-sort-of-almost-equal civil unions.

The current National-led Government, like Labour before it, has refused to bring the Marriage Act in line with the Bill of Rights Act and National has refused to end discrimination in adoptions.

So, the Bill of Rights Act, good as it is, has a long, long way to go before it ensures that all New Zealanders are treated equally. We should be proud of the Act for what it is, but ever mindful of that which it has not yet become.
The story behind the nickname for the comment is a long one, but not interesting in the least. Still, you could always “Like” the comment anyway. Just sayin’.

You can also let me know what you think of it here. I, too, value feedback.


Unknown said...

Glad you spoke out. Grateful you are so good with words.

馬旖 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Arthur Schenck said...

Thanks—you're too kind!

The deleted comment was spam, btw…

Roger Owen Green said...

I quote from a comment I received about a post about racism I wrote recently: "I was at a Christian college where I and various staff members were involved in a study on racial reconciliation by Raleigh Washington & Glen Kehrein called 'Breaking Down Walls,' and it seemed to me that everyone was so very quick to disown racism that none of us had anything to really work on."

There is always a bit of self-satisfaction when noting progress. AREN'T WE WONDERFUL? Notice how the US is now colorblind because Obama's been elected?

So, yeah, you have a valid complaint; but I think the issue of "progress" is SO much a landmine that all you can do is pat them on the head and say, "Good job, good job. NOW DO MORE!"