Two victories! | The Jackal

18 Apr 2013

Two victories!

It's not often that left wing MPs manage to get their bills passed through parliament these days. Usually it's the right wing ramming through socially detrimental legislation that passes with slimmest of majorities.

Sometimes there isn't even any select committee or public input into the process, which is somewhat demoralizing and puts into question whether we still have a functioning democracy in New Zealand?

However yesterday the left had two significant victories: the Holidays (Full Recognition of Waitangi Day and ANZAC Day) Amendment Bill 2012 and the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, both passing despite strong opposition inside and outside parliament.

David Clark's Holiday Bill passed by only one vote, with the Maori Party and Peter Dunne switching allegiance to vote in favour of the worthwhile legislative changes. In my opinion, they should be commended for supporting left wing principles.

The Marriage Bill passed by 77 votes to 44, with many right wing MPs siding with the bills sponsor, Labour MP Louisa Wall. Even John Banks voted for the law change to allow same sex marriages, which is sure to get under the skin of most Act party supporters.

This is pretty big news around the world, with The Guardian reporting:

New Zealand's parliament has voted in favour of allowing same-sex marriage, prompting cheers, applause and the singing of a traditional Maori celebratory song from the public gallery.

Seventy-seven of 121 members voted in favour of amending the 1955 Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to wed, making New Zealand the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to do so.

"Two-thirds of parliament have endorsed marriage equality," said Louisa Wall, a gay opposition Labour party MP who campaigned in favour of the bill. "It shows that we are building on our human rights as a country."

The bill was widely expected to pass, given similar support for the change in a preliminary vote held last month. It is likely to come into effect in August.

New Zealand becomes the 13th country to legalise same-sex marriages, after Uruguay passed the law last week. Australia rejected a similar proposal last year.

So an excellent result, and one that has assuredly reduce discrimination. In fact the public discussion surrounding the process has likely helped to change some people's perceptions for the better.

Now on to the next victory!