Mon, 30 Jul 2012 2:42p.m.
Opinion by Political Editor Duncan Garner
John Key has given his crucial nod to gay marriage, and his support could be vital in seeing this private members bill get passed into law.
Key was originally cautious on the bill last week - saying he would vote for it to the first reading but would then seek the views of his electorate.
But he's now said he's unlikely to change his mind over the course of the debate to allow same-sex couples to marry. That's the green light from the Prime Minister in my view.
And if there are some MPs wavering on this - especially in his caucus, then this might just bring them over.
Key's support is all about showing he's a modern, adaptable and flexible leader. He has seen Obama's support for it in the US. Don't under-estimate that.
To be against it would render Key's appearances at the Big Gay Out and the like redundant and pure show-boating. He couldn't go back and hug the boys in Grey Lynn if he voted against this.
And anyway - who on earth wants to be on the same side as Conservative Party leader Colin Craig? But expect Craig to use this as a wedge between what his lot stands for and what Key stands for.
Amongst the churchy vote - I can't see how Craig can lose. It's perfect timing for him. He now has another issue to campaign on.
But his comments that homosexuality is a choice, and he could choose to be gay if he wanted, is bizarre. Maybe we should force him onto a reality TV show - Gay for the week - and see if he copes. Imagine what could be done to him?
So Key has spoken, even if his position is confusing to say the least.
Remember Key voted against civil unions because his electorate was apparently opposed, now he's lining up to vote for gay marriage. So he's against civil unions but pro gay marriage. I don't understand it.
I'll put it down to timing, polling and politics.
I actually suspect the Prime Minister isn't strongly for or against gay marriage at all.
For him, this is now politics. Like so many of the rest of us I suspect - he doesn't really care - it won't affect him, his marriage, his wife or his life. So why waste too much more time on it?
That's my view really. I'll go on record here and now and say I have no problem with it. It's probably part of us growing up as a society. We had the Homosexual Law Reform bill in the 80s, civil unions 8 years ago - and surely this is what flows from that.
I say let the thing pass and allow gay New Zealanders to put up with what the rest of us have been putting up with centuries - marriage.
But let's go further and strengthen the law for homosexuals. If the gays want to get married, why don't we ban them from getting divorced!
And to those people who say this undermines the institution of marriage and bringing up children - I say what a complete load of rubbish. The heterosexuals have been doing that for centuries.
Around 21,000 kiwis got married in 2010 but almost 9000 got divorced. It's no more successful than anything else we try really. Actually, of all the New Zealanders who married in 1985, 33 percent - or 1 in 3 - had divorced before their silver wedding anniversary - 25 years.
It's hardly an upstanding, august institution we should all look up to. And I'm married.
But is there a massive public demand for gay marriage? No, not really.
Actually in 2010 only 200 same-sex couples sought a civil union. Two hundred! Not many is it?
In all, just 1851 civil unions have taken place in New Zealand since 26 April 2005.
The sky hasn't fallen in. We all still wake up in the morning. Society is no more or less evil.
I have gay friends. They are hugely fun people. They are normal too. They hold down mundane jobs. They pay tax. And they are fantastic parents. If they want to get married, I say let them suffer like the rest of us. I doubt they will walk up the aisle though.
I have a gay uncle - he is a superb, loving and caring man - who has been in our lives since we were born, and will till the day he dies. We're great mates. If he wants to marry - why should we stand in the way? I sense he has no interest in it to be honest.
So I'm on record. It doesn't scare me. Pass the bill - but let's not waste too much time over it - as it doesn't actually affect too many people. But for those it does affect - it actually matters. It's about equal human rights under law.
This debate will give plenty of oxygen to the religious bishops who reside in cult heaven, if you know what I mean. So let's get on with it.
If the gays want to get married and enjoy the same equal human rights as the straights - then Parliament should do the right thing.