Why do these issues matter?
The struggle for marriage and adoption equality is the civil rights struggle of this generation. The statement by Parliament that a large section of New Zealanders should be denied access to equal citizenship by virtue of the person they love, or the gender they identify as, is unacceptable. It reinforces the same homophobic and transphobic hatred that plagues the LGBT/queer community all across the country, and needs to be stopped.
New Zealand is a nation that values acceptance and tolerance. We were the first nation in the world to extend voting rights to all citizens, regardless of gender, and 63% of us (according to a ONE News poll) support marriage equality. Politicians from across the political spectrum are starting to call for the law to be changed, and there is no excuse for those who have remained silent to do so any longer.
Where does the law stand now?
Under current New Zealand law, same-sex couples may not enter into a marriage. Although the Marriage Act 1955 doesn’t specifically define marriage as between a man and a woman, countless other Acts that deal with aspects of marriage certainly do, and this is the position that Kiwi courts have accepted (Quilter v Attorney-General ).
The Adoption Act 1955 limits adoption rights to single people and ‘spouses’, which have traditionally been defined as married couples. Bizarrely, this creates a situation in which a same-sex couple cannot adopt, but if they separated either one of them legally could.