Aug 30, 2012

Māori MPs on marriage equality

I want to acknowledge and thank Louisa Wall for her passion and hard work that has ensured the huge victory for justice and equality that was seen last night in her Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill passing its First Reading in Parliament. Louisa, of Ngāti Tuwharetoa and Tainui descent, entered her bill into the member’s bill ballot shortly after President Barack Obama came out in the support of marriage equality. Her political discernment and timing in entering it at that time was excellent, and Kevin Hague also entered a bill at the same time which would have effectively the same outcome.

For me it’s a no brainer that we should eliminate all discrimination in law, particularly when it discriminates against such a large marginalised group in society. It’s worth checking how our Māori MPs voted on this bill.  There are 20 Māori MPs in Parliament, and 17 of them were in the group of 80 who voted in favour of the bill last night. Only 3 Māori opposed the bill.

All of the Māori MPs in both Labour and the Greens voted in favour.
All of the Māori Party and Hone Harawira supported it.
Of the Māori in National, only Simon Bridges opposed the bill.
All the Māori in New Zealand First, Winston Peters and Brendan Horan, opposed the bill.

New Zealand First voted against the bill because they claim to want a referendum on the issue, which is a bit of a cop out really. We shouldn’t need to waste that much money to remove discrimination in the law. Winston Peters shouldn’t have made his MPs take a party line on this issue, and should have allowed them to vote with their conscience.

What is most surprising is that many of the Māori MPs who have taken conservative approaches to other moral issues like Shane Jones, Tariana Turia and Te Ururoa Flavell, all voted in favour of the bill. This is welcome, and credit to all of them for their support.

It’s clear that Hone Harawira has buckled to pressure within the Mana Party but credit should go to him as well for making the right decision.

Overall our Māori MPs performed well on this issue, with a few disappointing exceptions. 

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