Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Is NZ Labour finally backing marriage equality?

Yesterday, I saw a pamphlet posted on the Rainbow Labour page on Facebook. The wording caused some concern, but it was another posting further down the page that, for me, only heightened the confusion. So, I have to ask:

Is NZ Labour finally supporting marriage equality, or is it not?

One side of the flier—my favourite—is above; I think it’s pretty clear. The other side is below, and it contains this vague wording: “Modernise adoption and relationship laws in New Zealand.” Okay, adoption law we all get, but what’s this about “relationship laws”? Is that marriage equality, or are they talking about something else?

Further down the Facebook page, someone had posted a link to an article on gayexpress.com: “Labour releases rainbow policy”. The article begins, “The New Zealand Labour Party has released its rainbow policy platform for the 2011 election, which includes gay marriage and GLBT youth safety among the party’s primary concerns.”

I read that and thought, “finally!” That was until I read further in the article that among other things, Labour pledged that if it wins government it will “Review and update relationship and relationship property law…” Okay, well, what does that mean?

The article quotes Charles Chauvel as saying, “It’s our policy to open up the right to marriage so that people can make the choice. I imagine there will be some who have some difficulty with that, but it’s consistent with our commitment to equality.”

I was relieved. It appeared that Labour was finally agreeing to support marriage equality—or are they? The only place I can find any reference to this whatsoever is in that one article.

There is nothing on the Labour Party website about this commitment. The site for Rainbow Labour is currently “returning soon”. There’s also nothing on the Party’s group blog, Red Alert. There’s not even anything on Charles Chauvel’s own site.

Not surprisingly, then, there are also no mainstream news articles about this. In fact, the top things that showed up in my Google search were blog posts from earlier this year about how Labour is not supporting marriage equality.

So, I’m again left to wonder: Is New Zealand Labour supporting marriage equality or isn’t it? It shouldn’t be this hard to get a straight answer, if you’ll pardon the expression.

Three months ago I wrote about how marriage equality in New Zealand was going nowhere, in part because neither Labour nor National supported it, and that, in fact, the only party that does is the Greens. I wrote that Labour Leader Phil Goff had declared, “Labour supported civil unions, when National opposed them. Not intending to make further changes.” I should have added that, on Twitter, campaign manager Trevor Mallard said that marriage equality was not on the agenda because, basically, New Zealand wasn’t ready for it.

I haven’t been happy with Labour for three years—like a lot of Labour voters, actually. And like a lot of other disaffected Labourites, I’ve been seriously considering giving my Party Vote to the Greens this year. This debacle has again made me consider that as a viable option. I support marriage equality. The Greens support marriage equality. Labour? Who knows?

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