James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Wall digs in heels over same-sex marriage

File photo / Mark Mitchell
File photo / Mark Mitchell

Labour MP Louisa Wall is digging her heels in despite strong opposition from fellow party members against her bill that legalising same-sex marriages.

Ms Wall spoke at a student-arranged assembly with pupils at Cambridge High School yesterday about her bill which has caused ructions within parts of the Labour Party's conservative factions.

Mangere MP Su'a William Sio has called for its withdrawal saying he would oppose it when it came up for a conscience vote but Ms Wall said she was not worried about how other Labour Party members would exercise their conscience votes.

"My job is to make sure that people have information about what my bill is trying to achieve so I can't control how they engage and the position they take."

"Just as the Prime Minister has come out in support of the bill I'm sure there are not 58 National MPs lining up behind him."

Mr Sio said the bill went against the wishes of his electorate which was largely Pasifika, conservative and church-going. He said the bill could cost Labour the next election if it was passed as legislation.

But Ms Wall disagreed saying South Aucklanders were "very clear about issues of equality and discrimination".

"My biggest challenge is trying to communicate what my bill will actually do and to ensure that the Pacific community who are religious in nature to understand that they can continue to hold the belief that they do about marriage."

"My bill isn't going to affect their personal beliefs or their religious beliefs in fact it is about the state giving two people who love each other who are New Zealand citizens the right to obtain a marriage licence."

The Manurewa MP will today speak about the issue with Reverend Uesifili UNasa, Christian ministers and Pasifika community leaders at a meeting being convened by Reverend Glynn Cardy of Auckland's St Matthews in the City

Reverend Cardy took a liberal approach saying he was in favour of same-gender marriages and not something that The Bible opposed.

"I see that marriage is about mutuality, commitment and love between a couple," he said.

"It's not about what the gender of the couple are...the church moved away quite a long time ago from the purpose of marriage being for children and I see no reason why that marriage shouldn't happen in churches and I see no reason why marriage shouldn't happen between same gender couples in the state."

Rev Cardy said marriages throughout The Bible had reflected the cultural trends of those societies with polygamy and marriage within families once considered normative while divorce at one stage was totally prohibited.

"There have been a whole lot of different marital patterns within the scriptures so I don't see any reason why we shouldn't again look at a change in relation to our time and place now."

Meanwhile, West-Coast Tasman MP Damien O'Connor will vote against the bill despite local supporters of the bill lobbying him and his daughter Bridgette taking to Facebook imploring him to change his mind.

"I hope he does vote for gay marriage as society needs to wake up and realise these are normal people who deserve the same treatment and rights as everyone else," she said in a Facebook post that appeared on Kiwiblog yesterday.

Mr O'Connor said he was proud of his daughter who had a strong sense of social justice "but sometimes we disagree".

"We must respect one anothers opinions but ignore the extremes from both sides of the debate."

Ms Wall said support for the Bill was "looking very good" for the first reading, which is likely to be at the end of this month.

- NZ Herald

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