Matt McCarten on politics

Matt McCarten is a Herald on Sunday political columnist

Matt McCarten: Gay couples have rights, too

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Gay marriage protesters spreading their message. Photo / Jason Dorday
Gay marriage protesters spreading their message. Photo / Jason Dorday

Inflicting marriage on gay couples is a foregone conclusion in this country and in other civilised secular countries.

In the United States, 63 per cent of people now support same-sex marriages. Even the Mormon Church, which has funded large anti-gay marriage campaigns, has quietly given up its fight.

New Zealanders have always been more liberal than people in other countries. So it was a shock that two recent polls showed support for marriage equality was decreasing.

Supporters of MP Louisa Wall's campaign for a law change blame the latest numbers on a late misinformation campaign organised by churches.

I was buttonholed this week by a young Catholic priest who confirmed this. I don't meet many conservative true believers, so I was happy to hear his dogma on why homosexuals were an abomination and mustn't be allowed to marry.

The irony of having a young virgin man in a frock, not permitted to marry, employed by what many would say is an anti-women institution riddled with suppressed homosexual men and paedophiles, preaching to me on the threat of gays to heterosexual marriage, was lost on him.

Why do religious people feel they have the right to tell other people how to live their lives?

Even to a child, the idea that an all-knowing and powerful ruler of the universe can tell them what to think is bizarre.

Dressing up old-fashioned homophobia as some sort of religious crusade is ignorant and dishonest. Anyone who has read the Bible knows the martyr, to whom we owe this weekend, never mentioned homosexuality, let alone opposed it. Jesus hung out drinking with a bunch of bachelors (draw your own conclusions) and, although he openly consorted with single women, he never felt the urge to marry.

Nowadays, Christians would have us believe marriage is a God-given right. It's not. It's a secular institution where two people make a commitment to share their lives together. They may choose to add their own biological children or adopt. The state recognises the relationship and grants legal rights. Churches have no role unless the couple choose to hold a ceremony on their premises.

Science and common sense show homosexuality is not a choice. Sexual preference is caused by a gene before a child is born.

The only question is whether everyone has the same rights. Of course they do. Civil unions were always an interim step before society caught up with its obligation to accept full equality.

Jesus was a liberal and spent his life fighting against injustice. If you're a Christian who opposes marriage rights for every couple in love, you'll know Jesus died for your sin.

This Easter say a quiet prayer, accept his forgiveness and do the right thing - change sides.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- Herald on Sunday

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