The Civil Union Bill is be-ing promoted as reasonable legislation, to rectify civil rules and regulations that allegedly discriminate against homosexuals and lesbians. Many New Zealanders, including senior politicians from other parties, are supportive, believing that the issue is about recognizing modern diversity and civil rights.
They would be probably unaware that overseas, particularly in Australia and America, certain gay activists and academics are telling gay communities that the real object is a social revolution to destroy the traditional family.
New social structures of marriage will enable sexual expression based on individuals, couples and groups. The latter is called “polyamory”.
What’s polyamory? Well, that’s what this story is all about…as BERNARD MORAN reports:
How things change. Not too long ago, the idea of same-sex marriage seemed ridiculous. Now its proponents are on a roll across the western world, and it’s their adversaries, the “homophobic” defenders of traditional marriage, who are struggling to hold back the tide.
In retrospect, human rights legislation provided the essential platform for all that was to come. An end run can be taken around the mass of public disapproval, centuries of history and world-wide practice, through a successful appeal on the grounds of discrimination.
Especially when human rights legislation is amended by Parliament to ban discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation.
In April 1917, Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin arrived aboard a sealed train at Petrograd station. The epitome of the professional revolutionary, Lenin came armed with a political agenda Marxist Leninism, the will to carry it out, and a strategy to prevail over opposition.
Christchurch MP, Tim Barnett, the architect of the Civil Union Bill and legalised prostitution, arrived in New Zealand in 1991, armed with an agenda and strategy to advance gay rights.
His website profile (found on the web at www.timbarnett.org.nz) and interview in the gay paper Express (10th May, 2001), reveals a consummate, professional social revolutionary.
In his early 20s, Tim Barnett, involved with the British Labour party, worked as a voluntary sector manager, specializing in strategic and project development, marketing and media. From 1982-1989, he was co-organiser and then chairman of the National Association of Volunteer Bureaux.
His key appointment was as the founding Executive Director of the Stonewall (Lobby) Group 1989-1991.
To appreciate the expertise that Tim Barnett brings to the promotion of his Civil Union Bill, we need to take a closer look at what Stonewall represents. But first, here is how Stonewall got its name.
Robert Knight in his 1998 book, The Age of Consent: The Rise of Relativism and the corruption of Popular Culture (Spence Publishing Co, Dallas), writes on page 47:
“In 1969, the Stonewall rebellion signalled the beginning of the official Gay Liberation Movement. A New York bar catering to drag queens and ‘chicken hawks’ (homosexual men who seek underage male partners), the Stonewall Inn was also a haven for drug dealing. When the police began to question some of the patrons on June 27th, 1969, the bar patrons – many of them drag queens – responded by rioting.
“It was the first ‘mass resistance’ against the establishment by homosexuals, and it serves today as their sacred totem, with gay pride parades and numerous rites, held annually on the Stonewall anniversary. Few gay activists, most of whom deny that paedophilia plays any part in the homosexual ‘community’, acknowledge that Stonewall was known as a meeting place for paedophiles.”
Investigate readers with PCs can key in www.stonewall.org.uk and see for themselves, how professional and effective Stonewall is in Britain.
Under a “Brief Overview of Stonewall”, we read: “Stonewall was founded in 1989 by women and men who had been active in the struggle against Section 28 of the Local Government Act (more on that later). Their aim was to create a professional lobbying group that would prevent such attacks on lesbians, gay men and bisexuals ever occurring again – and to put the case for equality on the mainstream political agenda, by winning support within all political parties.”
“Our lobbying work remains important today, but our activities have expanded considerably. We promote new research (for example on discrimination in the work place, homophobic violence and sex education) and have taken test legal cases that graphically challenge inequality (e.g. on the age of consent and lesbians and gays in the armed forces). We have also successfully mobilized thousands of individuals around the country to campaign on our behalf, most notably in the run up to the votes on the age of consent and Section 28 in Parliament.”
Stonewall initiates policy development:
· “carrying out research, publishing briefings and working with government, trade unions, business, NGOs and policy institutions..”
· “Cultural and attitudinal change: challenging the underlying cultural and attitudinal values that allow discrimination to flourish. Changing cultures and attitudes to positively value diversity.”
· “Lobbying for legal change: campaigning to ensure legislation is non-discriminatory and that the diversity and value of LGB (gay, lesbian and bi-sexual) life is appropriately recognized in our own laws.”
Tim Barnett played a leading role in the bitter fight to repeal Section 28 of the 1982 British Education Act. A detailed account of the struggle was written by Stephen Green, head of the Conservative Party Family Association, in his book The Sexual Dead End (Broad View Books, London, 1992).
Section 28 forbade the promotion of homosexuality during sex education classes in United Kingdom schools.
Green describes (p 348-349) how “The Stonewall Group published a ‘Homosexuality Equality Bill’ based on a manifesto agreed by the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and the National Council for Civil Liberties. The central aim was the overturning of the idea that lesbian and gay sexuality is unlawful or immoral.
Draft legislation prepared for the Labour Party began by declaring: “That homosexual sex acts, whether between women or between men, are in no way inferior from the standpoint of public morality, or policy, or the public interest, to heterosexual sex acts.”
“All three manifestos, the Labour, the Liberal Democrat and the Stonewall, believe that children should be taught in the classroom that homosexuality is equally as valid as heterosexuality.”
The manifestos included a new offence of “incitement to hatred (or violence) on the grounds of sexual orientation.” This measure would proscribe the ability of Christian churches and other religious faiths, to make public statements, or publicly oppose aspects of the homosexual agenda. More on this later.
Stonewall lobbied hard for the legal age for consent to be lowered to 16. Stephen Green commented that prosecutions would be unlikely for sex with 15 and 14 year-old boys, on the grounds that they would be considered borderline cases, because of the difficulty in proving that the accused knew the boys were underage.
Green writes that although Stonewall was then unsuccessful in repealing Section 28, its ability in public relations and marketing “Proud to be Gay”, “transferred any stigma from homosexuals to the bigoted opposition. Homosexuals were no longer sick or perverted. What was sick, was the homophobic opposition to homosexuality.”
Commenting on the homosexual agenda, Green wrote: “The homosexual movement simply measures all things, by the standard of whether or not, they promote homosexuality for the homosexual.”
In 1991, Tim Barnett and his partner, the Very Reverend Jonathon Kirkpatrick arrived in New Zealand. The Reverend Kirkpatrick had been appointed Dean of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Dunedin.
By 1991, Barnett was working for the AIDS Foundation in Christchurch, then coordinator for the Christchurch Community Law Centre and enjoying rapid progress within the Labour Party: chair of Christchurch Central Electoral Committee, then regional representative on the NZ Council of the Party.
Selected as the Labour candidate for Christchurch Central in August 1995, he became an MP in October 1996. Tim Barnett was soon in positions of power consistent with his Stonewall experience and agenda: Labour Spokesperson on Human Rights, Private Secretary to the Ministry of Justice on human rights issues, Chair of the Justice and Electoral Select Committee.
For their 10th May, 2001 issue, the gay newspaper Express invited Tim Barnett to outline his objectives for the future. Here are his key points:
· “We will not have a queer-friendly government forever. I believe there is a real urgency to completing the equal-rights agenda, so that moving backwards becomes totally unthinkable and untenable, so that over ensuing generations, attitudes can finally come right.”
· “We know much more than most about what Government could do and is doing, and we have the luxury of being full-time stirrers.”
· “As queer politicians, our mission is to deliver equal rights under the law, and ensure that the Government machine is working for our community.”
Under “unfinished business”, Mr Barnett listed his agenda:
· “Recognition of our relationships, offering the same rights that marriage confers (I am currently working on a civil union model).
· “Access to marriage as an additional option to civil union.”
· “Comprehensive action to make all our school environments safe for young people coming out as queer. That should include access to counselling, protection from discrimination by staff, or fellow students – and inclusion of relevant studies in the curriculum.”
· “Recognition in law of the existence and absolute unacceptability of homophobia (and other forms of hate), as a motivating factor in criminal acts.”
Prime Minister Helen Clark told the Express newspaper (21 June, 2001) that although she had not seen a draft of the bill, “I did encourage Tim to take up the issue.”
Given the Prime Ministerial green light, Tim Barnett established an advisory group of mainly gay people to develop a concept that would allow homosexual partnerships to be officially registered, without altering the status of marriage.
The group’s proposal applies to heterosexual and gay couples, who would be able to have their relationship registered and acquire similar rights to married couples.
Tim Barnett’s case is cogently argued in a comprehensive backgrounder on his website (www.timbarnett.org.nz). He approaches the issue from a human rights angle:
“In New Zealand, same-sex couples cannot legally get married, or access the rights that come with marriage. When a couple get married, they automatically receive over 100 different statutory entitlements. Because same-sex couples cannot get married, they cannot access these entitlements. This is discrimination.”
“Generally, New Zealand’s laws do not recognize the existence of same-sex couples. Same-sex partners are not ‘next of kin’ or ‘family’, according to most of our laws. This can have a devastating impact on people’s lives.”
“There are countless stories from all around New Zealand, of people experiencing horrific situations and hardship because of the current relationship laws and their effects. For example, there are many distressing stories of people not being able to see their partner in hospital, because they are not considered to be ‘family’. Because of these effects, it is important that New Zealand’s laws are changed, so that they do recognize the existence of same-sex couples.”
“Because same-sex couples cannot legally get married, they do not have the choice of publicly expressing their commitment. The legal effect of this is that same-sex couples are considered ‘legal strangers’, even if they have lived together for twenty or more years. The social effect is that bisexual, lesbian and gay people are treated like second-class citizens, and their relationships are denied the dignity of being socially recognized. This has negative effects upon individuals’ health, self-esteem and relationship stability.”
Tim Barnett explains that civil unions will be another form of relationship recognition that exists alongside marriage. “But unlike marriage, civil unions will be available for all couples. Civil unions won’t be based on religion, or other traditional ideas about ‘couples’.”
“Civil unions will be a modern relationship model for the 21st century, with a secular (non-religious) basis. What they will mean socially will depend on us – society. We have the challenge of being pioneers and developing social meanings and status around ‘civil unions’.”
Married couples have over a hundred statutory entitlements, conferring legal benefits, protections and obligations. De facto couples have over thirty, while same-sex couples have only nine.
According to Tim Barnett, the Government’s approach is to change each law on a case-by-case basis, as it updates old laws. It is “tagging on” relationship recognition to law reform issues like guardianship, adoption and property division. “But this is an unrealistic, inefficient and messy way to give same-sex couples equal rights. There are many minor or trivial laws that they won’t bother to amend just to include same-sex couples.”
“What we propose in the Civil Union Bill is to change all the statute books in one go, by saying that every time the words ‘spouse’, ‘wife’, ‘husband’, or ‘de facto couple’ appear, they should be read to include same-sex couples. This will make sure that all the laws comply with the Bill of Rights Act, and the Government isn’t in breach of our human rights in terms of equal treatment. This is an efficient one-step law change that means we won’t have to argue for same-sex inclusion, every time a law is debated in Parliament.”
On adoption, Tim Barnett argues that there is no objective data to suggest that same-sex parents are any better or worse than different-sex parents. Most recent, reliable studies have stated that same-sex parents are just as likely to be good parents as different-sex couples are. Under the Bill of Rights Act, the Government would need to demonstrate, using objective data or reasons, how it could justify excluding same-sex couples from adopting. We don’t think that they could.”
The problem with Tim Barnett’s “recent, reliable studies”, is that most have been carried out by same-sex people and tend to be self-serving. He overlooks the wealth of evidence indicating that fathers and mothers play vital roles in rearing children. Adopted children deserve to have the experience of both a father and a mother.
Example: an in-depth research project carried out in the 1990s, on teenagers reared by lesbian women. They confided to the researchers that they loved their mothers and their partners, but were profoundly disturbed and distressed by their sexual activities. Out of loyalty to their “parents”, the children internalized their distress and never spoke of it.
How will couples register their civil union? The only legal requirement will be to sign a register at the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages and be issued with a certificate.
If couples separate for more than two years, they will be able to dissolve their civil union. The same “divorce rules” will apply as for marriage, meaning that there will be a two-year stand down between separation and dissolution. The Property Relationship Act of 2001, will cover how property is divided between civil union couples, if they separate or one dies.
David Benson-Pope, the new Associate Minister of Justice will introduce the two pieces of legislation into the House. The Civil Unions Bill is modeled on the Marriage Act, but substitutes the words “civil unions” for marriage and covers homosexual as well as heterosexual relationships.
The second, the Legal Recognition of Relationships Bill, will seek to amend 1,000 provisions in some 120 different pieces of legislation. The terms “marriage”, “husband” and “wife”, will disappear from the statute books and ensure that civil unions will have identical benefits to those who are married.
The stated purpose is to ensure that discrimination based on marital status is eliminated in compliance with the Human Rights Act. A similar right is contained in the NZ Bill of Rights Act.
The question remains that once the areas of discrimination have been eliminated, what happens to the idea of marriage itself.
Maggie Gallagher is the editor of MarriageDebate com and the co-author of “The Case for Marriage”. In her article “What Marriage is For”, published in The Weekly Standard (4th August, 2003), she writes:
“The problem with endorsing gay marriage is not that it would allow a handful of people to choose alternative family forms, but that it would require society at large to gut marriage of its central presumption about family, in order to accommodate a few adults’ desires.”
“The debate over same-sex marriage then, is not some sideline discussion. It is the marriage debate. Either we win – or lose the central meaning of marriage. Same-sex marriage would enshrine in law a public judgment that the desire of adults for families of choice, outweighs the need of children for mothers and fathers. It would give sanction and approval to the creation of motherless or fatherless family as a deliberately chosen ‘good’. It would mean that the law was neutral as to whether children had mothers and fathers. Motherless and fatherless families would be deemed just fine.”
“Redefining marriage so that it suits gays and lesbians, requires fundamentally changing our legal, public, and social conception of what marriage is, in ways that threaten its core public purpose.”
What lies beyond civil unions and same-sex marriage?
In America, some gay-rights advocates are predicting that civil unions and same-sex marriage, have the scope to completely redefine marriage and its meaning.
For example, Patti Ettelbrick, former leader of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund says: “Being queer is more than setting up house, sleeping with a person of the same gender, and seeking state approval for doing so. Being queer means pushing the parameters of sex and sexuality, and in the process transforming the very fabric of society.”
Michelangelo Signorile, homosexual activist and writer argues that the goal of homosexuality is to: “fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely, to demand the right to marry, not as a way of adhering to society’s moral codes, but rather to debunk a myth and radically alter an archaic institution. The most subversive action lesbians and gay men can undertake, is to transform the notion of ‘family’ entirely.”
Gay commentator Andrew Sullivan, has said that the “openness” in many gay relationships would in reality fortify heterosexual marriages by allowing straight couples to see that adultery doesn’t necessarily destroy a marriage. Once gay “marriage” is allowed, the faithful nature of traditional unions will be transformed for the better.
Which brings us to the concept of polyamory. Once civil unions and marriage between same-sex couples are legalized, it could be argued that limiting the relationship to two people is discriminatory. Since the procreation and rearing of children by a mother and father, is no longer recognized by the state as a preferred relationship, or for the greater good of society, there is no reason apart from convention to limit the union to two people.
Stanley Kurtz, writing in the Weekly Standard (August 4th, 2003) “Beyond Gay Marriage: the road to polyamory”, predicts that marriage will be transformed into a variety of relationship contracts, linking two, three, or more individuals, in every conceivable combination of male and female. Polyamory is about group marriage, and already in the United States, a network of grass-roots organizations advocating legal recognition, is being supported by a powerful faction of family law specialists.
“Influential legal bodies in both the United States and Canada, have presented radical programs of marital reform. Some of these proposals go so far as to suggest the abolition of marriage.”
Kurtz says that the modern polyamory movement took off in the mid-nineties, partly because of the growth of the Internet, but also in parallel and inspired by the rising gay marriage movement.
“Unlike classic polygamy, which features one man and several women, polyamory comprises a bewildering variety of sexual combinations. There are triads of one women and two men, heterosexual group marriages, groups in which all members are bisexual, lesbian groups and so forth. (For details, see Deborah Anapol’s “Polyamory: the New Love Without Limits”, or look up the word polyamory on Google.)”
The flagship magazine of the polyamory-rights movement is Loving More, which advocates using the gay rights movement as a model.
However, as Kurtz reveals, there is a fundamental problem that just doesn’t seem to go away, and it’s called “jealousy”. Apparently, polyamory websites are filled with chatter about jealousy. Inevitably, group marriages based on modern principles of companionate love, without religious rules and restraints, are unstable and children will pay the price.
“Once monogamy is defined out of marriage, it will be next to impossible to educate a new generation in what it takes to keep companionate marriage intact. State-sanctioned polyamory would spell the effective end of marriage. And that is what polyamory”s new and surprisingly influential defenders are aiming for.”
“State-sanctioned polyamory is now the cutting-edge issue among scholars of family law. Promoting polyamory is the ideal way to “radically reorder society’s view of the family” says Paula Ettelbrick, policy director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.”
Quoting from a series of law professors, Kurtz notes they believe that legal and social hostility to polygamy and polyamory are decreasing, and that the increased openness of homosexual partnerships is slowly collapsing the taboo against polygamy and polyamory.
Part of the agenda is to render the distinction between traditional marriage and polyamory as “morally neutral”.
Canada is further down the track than the USA. In 1997, the Canadian Parliament established the Law Commission of Canada to serve Parliament and the Justice Ministry, as an advisory body on legal reform. In December 2001, the Commission submitted a report entitled “Beyond Conjugality”, which hinted at recommending the abolition of marriage. The authors admitted that the Canadian public may not be yet ready for such a step.
Tim Barnett is on record in Express magazine (10th May, 2001) as seeking “recognition in law of the existence and absolute unacceptability of homophobia (and other forms of hate) as a motivating factor in some criminal acts.” His passion paid off when the Government adopted ‘hate crime’ provisions into law two years ago.
Canada provides a salutary lesson on what this can lead to when “sexual orientation” becomes part of the Human Rights Act. In the November, 2003 issue of Catholic World Report, there is a feature by John-Henry Westen entitled: “Religious Persecution Next? A new ‘hate crime law’ bars Christians from speaking out against homosexuality.”
The Catholic Bishops of Canada were so alarmed by the implications that they issued a public statement: “What troubles us is the possibility that someone who finds the expression of the Catholic Church on sexual conduct too blunt, or too harsh, will invoke the Criminal Code to silence the teaching.”
In Ottawa, a leading Catholic priest told a press conference: “Canadians are now seeing their precious country rushing into an era of ruthless religious persecution. They are witnessing their religious rights eroding before their eyes, and see Bill C-250 as the launch pad for a full attack on Canadian religious belief and institutions.”
Other priests announced they were willing to go to jail, to remain faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Toronto’s Cardinal Ambrozic warned that with the passing of C-250: “religion will soon need to be protected from the state. You risk your life for an absolute. There are things greater than us, for which we must be ready to die.”
Sylvia MackEachern, editor of the Catholic publication the Orator, in a radio interview condemned the new AIDS curriculum intended for Catholic schools. She found herself under investigation by the Ottawa-Carleton Police Hate Crime Unit, and was let off with a caution.
WorldNetDaily carried a report on November 13th, 2003, about the Anglican Bishop of Chester, the Rt.Rev. Peter Forster, who was investigated by the Cheshire police for committing a “hate crime”. In an interview with the Chester Chronicle, the Bishop said:
“Some people who are primarily homosexual can re-orientate themselves. I would encourage them to consider that as an option, but I would not set myself up as a specialist on the subject. That is in the area of psychiatric health.”
The Times reported the Cheshire Chief Constable Peter Fahy, issued a public rebuke to the Bishop: “All public leaders in Cheshire need to give clear leadership on the issue of diversity.”
After consulting with the Crown Prosecution Service, Cheshire police decided that the Bishop hadn’t committed a crime, according to a strict interpretation of the current law.
But this incident does serve as a warning to New Zealand church leaders who might criticize school sex education programmes that treat homosexual activity as equally valid and desirable as heterosexuality.
Prime Minister Helen Clark was interviewed at length by Express (11th February, 2004) and responded to this question:
Is the government worried about the level of homophobia shown by groups of the religious right like the Maxim Institute in New Zealand?
“We legislated against hate crimes. You just have to keep working over a long period of time on several values in society that does not condone that sort of attitude. I understand that over a long period of time, there has been a fundamentalist programme that runs on TV2 on a Sunday morning which is absolutely disgraceful. It is a very small minority point of view – and I think through continuing to set the tone of tolerance, acceptance and diversity, you just have to further marginalize such people. Hopefully one day, nobody will think that way.”
Dr Michael Bassett, Minister of Health in the Lange Government and a historian, was interviewed by Leighton Smith on 24th February, 2004. He made this comment about Helen Clark and her inner circle:
“Their formative thinking was in the 1970s, and they have never learnt anything since. They impose their views on the bureaucrats, and they are in politics to force their 1970s views on the populace – and you’d better believe it.”
Pope John Paul 11, once observed: “When absolute moral values are abandoned, then democracy becomes a matter of power and will.”
But there is a potential solution to the Civil Union standoff: “Next-of-Kin” status.
In the United States, David Reardon of the Elliot Institute, has produced a concept that addresses the legitimate concerns of gay couples, and at the same time defends the traditional status of marriage and family.
Reardon’s proposal would allow any unmarried individual, regardless of sexual lifestyle, to designate the person who should handle their personal affairs, make health decisions when they are incapacitated, and have presumptive rights of visitation and inheritance, etc.
He argues: “A morally legitimate response to the legitimate concerns of homosexuals and other single persons, would be to pass legislation that allows easy designation or registration of a person’s chosen “next of kin”, to whom all rights of visitation, power of attorney, etc, would attach. This legal designation of “next of kin”, would override default transfer of these rights and duties to the closest blood relation, and thereby allow persons to designate any friend, “roommate”, or professional advisor to be their most trusted confidant and beneficiary.”
“This ‘next of kin’ designation avoids any insinuation that there is a ‘marriage’, or even a publicly recognized ‘union’ of the individuals. Yet at the same time, it gives single persons the right to establish a ‘family’ connection in a manner that is closely analogous to adoption. One might characterize the ‘next of kin’ designation as the adoption of a brother or sister to whom the legal rights of next-of-kin attach. The law could also provide for ‘next of kin’ certificates and ‘kinship severed’ (divorce) certificates.”
Reardon acknowledges that most social engineer and gay activists will hate this solution precisely because it does solve the legitimate concerns of single persons. But by carefully addressing the legitimate problems they do raise, supporters of the traditional family can get out of their purely defensive posture and reframe the debate in ways that advance and protect the legitimate rights of both singles and married persons.
“In a society where families are often broken and dispersed, the right to designate a non-blood relation as ‘next of kin’ is a legitimate concern. When gay activists complain that next of kin designations are not enough, the response should be that they are sufficient to address the legitimate needs of all unmarried persons.”