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Pro-equality Christians saddened by misinformation

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News staff - 12th March 2013

The national network Christians for Marriage Equality is conveying sadness at the fear mongering some religious organisations are using, as the second reading of the Bill is about to be held.

It’s urging all MPs to allow gay, lesbian and transgender New Zealanders to fully access the social, cultural, legal and spiritual right to marry, when the Bill has its second reading tomorrow night.

Christians for Marriage Equality says the misinformation and messages of exclusion will further alienate young New Zealanders from participating in church life.

The group says people of faith are evenly divided on this issue. It points to a May 2012 Colmar Brunton poll which indicated that 46 per cent of people who identified with a religion or spiritual group supported marriage equality while 47 per cent did not agree that same sex couples should be eligible to marry.

Margaret Mayman
“At this stage, a clear distinction needs to be made between civil marriage and theological perspectives on marriage,” spokesperson for Christians for Marriage Equality, Rev Dr Margaret Mayman says.

“Religious opponents have a right to be heard, but they do not have the right to impose their views on religious people who believe in equal love, or on non-religious New Zealanders who see marriage as relevant precisely because it has evolved to become a commitment between two people who love each other.”

The group believes the Select Committee balanced the concerns of the range of religious submitters and made it clear that the Bill will not diminish the freedom of religion of those who oppose it. It says on the other hand, it will enhance the religious freedom of churches that want to be able to offer marriage to all couples.

“We support the proposed amendment clarifying that religious organisations which hold the view that marriage should only be between a man and a woman will not be required to marry same-sex couples, but we still hope for a day when all people of faith will embrace gay and lesbian couples and their families,” Mayman says.

Rev Clay Nelson of St Matthew’s in the City Anglican church is grateful for the rigorous Select Committee process. “Though many submitters on both sides were not heard, we are confident that the Select Committee heard or read all of the arguments on both sides of the issue.”

Christians for Marriage Equality the concern about use of religious premises is a red herring. It says under current Human Rights law religious organisations cannot discriminate in hiring of their buildings if they make their venues available for public use.

“No change is being made to the control churches have over their sacred, non-public spaces. The provision of non-religious celebrancy is also a Human Rights issue. Celebrants are authorised by the State to perform a public function and should not be able to discriminate in this role.”

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