New Zealand bans the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ from law books

New Zealand officials have confirmed the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ will be removed from all legislation to make gays feel included, if the country passes controversial gay marriage laws as expected.

The bill has just passed through its select committee stage and will go to a second reading in Parliament on 13 March.

Just a day after the latest polling showed support for gay marriage had dropped below 50% for the first time in almost a year, now comes the news that people will no longer be allowed to call themselves ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ when dealing with government agencies.

Lobby group Family First has accused officials of railroading the gay marriage laws through parliament’s select committee process. More than three thousand unique submissions were received by the select committee, out of 21,000 in total, “yet the committee has heard a little over 200 of them as they attempt to ram the bill through – equating to one per cent of [total] submissions,” said Family First director Bob McCoskrie today.

“National and Labour are ramming this bill through because they know that their core voter support bases are not happy with it, and they are desperate to get it off the political agenda – but in the process, they are trampling over the rights of New Zealanders to have their chance to speak up and contribute to the debate on this issue,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ and coordinator of the Protect Marriage campaign.

“The fact that a record of more than 20,000 submissions has been received on this bill shows just how important this issue is to so many people. It is a major change to an important human institution and foundation of our society, and in a healthy democracy, the people are entitled to speak and deserve to be heard in full. It should not be rushed, and democracy should not be denied, just because of a pre-determined reporting date which fails to recognise the weight of the issue,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Other Members’ bills are not being rammed through at such speed. Yet the same-sex marriage bill has had just six months to consider 21,500-plus submissions, hear oral submissions, and report back.”

“This is a cynical attempt to ram through a highly controversial law change without due consideration.”

There has also been an embarrassing backdown by the politicians and the Human Rights Commission who argued that the bill originally put forward by Labour MP Louisa Wall protected faith groups and celebrants. They now acknowledge that the law needs to be amended despite originally labeling Family First’s concerns as ‘scare-mongering’.

Family First is seeking legal advice on the effects of the proposed amendment.