Why same-sex marriage law bent on making parents progenitors

Centuries old terms used to describe aspects of marriage and parenthood will disappear in the stroke of a pen when the same-sex marriage bill is passed in a few weeks.

And it will result in alterations to almost 200 acts of parliament to incorporate the new “gender cosy” terminology.

“Husband” and “wife” will each be replaced by “spouse” while the collective term of “husband and wife” will be replaced by “married couple.”

What terms, if any, will be used to replace “father” and “mother” is not clear.

In Spain, where a socialist government introduced same-sex marriage in 2005, the terms “father” and “mother” have been replaced by “progenitor A” and "progenitor B” on birth certificates.

Which raises the question of who is on the A-list and who is on on the B-side?

According to Ogtago University law professor Andrew Geddis, this was done to deal with the “two mothers” or “two fathers” issue."

He told NBR ONLINE that New Zealand birth certificates must carry the name of the biological mother and father only.

Not been an issue

“This has not been an issue in New Zealand so far because same-sex couples haven’t been able to jointly adopt as only married couples can do so.

“But as they will be able to jointly adopt after same-sex marriage is legalised there will be an issue as to how this change is noted on childrens’ birth certificates.

“But there is, of course, no need to change the language – we can just have birth certificates that carry two mothers' names or two fathers' names,” he told NBR ONLINE.

Which is all very well, but how do teachers, among others, refer to the parents of such children at school and, just as importantly, what do the children call their parents when both are the same sex?

Pop star Sir Elton John and his civil union partner David Furnish, who have two infant sons from the same surrogate mother, have got round it by getting them to refer to them as “Daddy” and “Papa”, respectively.

Children of other homosexual couples reportedly call their parents “Dad” and “Daddy” or “Mummy” and “Mummy 2.”

However, it could get more confusing for them when “Father’s Day” and “Mother’s Day” roll around.

How they cope is anyone’s guess but perhaps such terminology will be replaced by “Spouse Day” or “Progenitor Day.”

Bob McCoskrie of Family First NZ says the gender neutral terminology is supposed to convey an attitude of inclusion and acceptance and counter discrimination.

“But in the desire to appease a very small group of people, others who cling very dearly to the tradition of marriage are now themselves being discriminated against.

“This is social engineering and with major social changes like this there should be a referendum.

“Instead, National and Labour are ramming this same-sex marriage bill through with indecent haste because they want to get it off the agenda before the next election.”

Legislative chaos

In Britain a top QC is warning that similar legislation there could lead to “legislative chaos”.

Lord Brennan, who is opposed to same-sex marriage, says it is proposed to remove the words “husband and wife” from the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and replace them with “parties to a marriage”.

“I doubt whether many husbands and wives will be happy to have the legal definition of their marriages re-written in such a way.”

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Lord Brennan says the proposed bill grants wide-ranging powers for a minister to amend the rest of the statute book on marriage “presumably to get rid of all the other references to husband and wife”.

“Well, the minister is going to be busy as the word 'husband' appears 1003 times in statute, 'wife' appears 888 times and 'spouse' occurs 2740 times.

"In all, there are 3000 references to marriage in current law and the oldest is in an Act passed in 1285, in the reign of King Edward 1, part of which is still in force.”

Lord Brennan believes the change in law will obliterate vast amounts of Britain’s cultural and legal heritage and have “Orwellian consequences”.

Professor Geddis told NBR ONLINE that in New Zealand the term “husband” is used in 67 Acts while “wife” is used in 118.

“The term 'spouse' isn’t an issue as it will cover a same-sex marriage already.

“In order to update the use of 'husband/wife' once same-sex marriages are permitted, the marriage bill contains a raft of amendments to other enactments.

“I assume that these amendments have been worked out with the help of the Parliamentary Counsel Office to ensure that the law is coherent after the bill passes.”

It may or may not be significant that New Zealand's Catholic Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson – who is expected to have influence over any law amendments – has described himself as a celibate gay.

rvaughan@nbr.co.nz

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23 Comments & Questions

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You must realise that the social engineers driving this change are not remotely interested in the concept of family. In fact, they are determined to get rid of the traditional family as we know it. This move is but one of many over the years of 'politically corrrecting' our society such that it becomes much easier to manipulate minds and mould people towards the acceptance of 'dependence' and, ultimately, communism. There is already a large section of the NZ society who have accepted 'dependence' as their status in life.
Schools are teaching children that they have 'rights', parents should be questioned, but no mention of 'responsibilities'. Some years ago corporal punishment was removed from schools because it was considered demeaning to a child to be punished - they should be talked to. Look at our communities now. It's no longer safe to walk the streets.

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Oh good LORD - single parent families, step-families, surrogacy, cloning, women in their 50s and 60s being able to be impregnated due to scientific advances all have changed this idea of "traditional families" and what about reality TV shows such as the Batchelor and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, or radio stations having competitions where two complete strangers marry each other for increased ratings and mail order brides. This is all ok (apparently because you don't really see such furious denunciation of such things) yet two people of the same sex who love each other and want to be able to have the same happiness (or misery) that marriage brings straight couples is somehow the harbinger of the end of the world as we know it. the concept of family is what you make it.

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You always know someone is a massive bigot when they say someone is "a homosexual".

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Why "a massive bigot" when they say someone is "a homosexual"? So, are bigots only relevant to people who refer to someone as a homosexual? Isn't a person also a "bigot" when they turn around and start showing contempt of those who express their opinions based on religion? What about the people who sneer at those who stand up for the rights of having "husband, wife, mother, father, just marraige between a male and a female"? Are they also not called bigots?

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How about when they say same-sex marriage is demonic. What would the name be given to them. Factual truth.

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And I thought we voted out the "you must use mercury filled eco light bulbs!" rabble?

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Why do you support choice when it comes what lightbulbs you use, but not when it comes to whether some people can marry the person they love?

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The social and legal complexities and knock-on effects of this proposed legislation haven't been carefully considered. The draft bill needs to be taken off the legal fast-track and passed on to a broadly-based commission for a rigorous and careful review of the issues and the legal ramifications. This bill is too divisive and controversial to ram through in its present form.

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The effects of this Bill have been considered, both in terms of the consequences for existing law and the impact on society. That is why we had a select committee process. The fact is, a majority of that committee didn't see the problems that are alleged by opponents of the measure as being particularly likely or dangerous. So I think you are mistaking "I don't agree with you" for "I haven't thought about it".

Further, the Bill is not being "rammed through". It is being enacted using standard legislative processes and timetables. If you think these are "too rushed", then that is a criticism of every single law Parliament has enacted ... including all the laws that you like.

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Given that the legislation appears to be so important to a range of interest groups, parliament would be well advised to adopt a slower, more measured, approach to its consideration. It can't really be argued that appropriate consideration of its social effects has been allowed to take place - quite the contrary. Therefore, there needs to be a much more careful and considered consensus-gathering process, one in which the discussion is allowed to generate more light than heat than has currently been the case. Arguments for urgency at this stage can only be seen as partisan.

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"It can't really be argued that appropriate consideration of its social effects has been allowed to take place - quite the contrary."

Why can't this be argued? What social effects have been overlooked? You appear to be arguing that because the concerns you have about this were not ACCEPTED, that this means they were not NOTICED. Which is not the same thing at all.

"Arguments for urgency at this stage can only be seen as partisan."

Who is arguing for "urgency"? Once again, all that is happening is that this legislation is being passed using the ordinary processes of Parliament. It's you that is arguing that these should be departed from, in that the bill should be passed using some invented, slowed down "careful and considered consensus-gathering process". Which sounds awfully like a partisan attempt on your part to prevent a law you don't like being passed.

Also, once again, if you think the passage of same sex marriage is occurring by an "illegitimate" process, then you have to say the same for the legislation setting up the MOM model for asset sales, the legislation reintroducing youth wage rates, and the legislation establishing charter schools. I assume you think all these laws were wrongly rushed into place as well. Right?

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Wow, are the anti-gay bigots really so low on ammo that they have to resort to arguments like this as reasons to oppose the Bill?

Who cares which words are used in certain acts of Parliament or regulatory forms when they will not effect the day-to-day application of anything? New Zealanders don't adopt their venacular from statues, the words 'Mother' and 'Father' existed long before lawmakers wrote them down. And the state is not the only institution in our society with the power to shape society. Frankly, if you believe this matters it shows remarkably statist views. I think Farrar did a post on this a few weeks back. The word spouse is already used in many acts of Parliament, and this bill doesn't remove the words mother and father from every act of Parliament, just some of them.

The only thing that will change when this Bill passes is that gay couples will be able to have ceremonies, sign forms and then say that they are married. If your belief is that this is immoral then just say that, rather than making stupid arguments like this.

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Thanks, Rod, for a thoughtful and very worrying piece.

This whole business is a disgrace. And we can ignore the apparently well-groomed poll results. They're simply wrong.

Out here in heartland New Zealand the country is dead against the farce of same-sex "marriages" - which are, of course, no marriage at all.

This is only one more, but highly pernicious, step basically against Western society in an attempt to destabilise it, by attacking and deriding its Christian foundation of morality and ethics.

As has been well noted, it is Christianity which underpins the West, and if it can be sufficiently devalued by the relentless, highly motivated attacks upon it, then the West will fall.

We should not forget that the new morality is simply the old immorality...

Attacking the very concepts of a mother and father, the two most protective natural guardians of a child, is quite simply unforgivable. Yet the majority of our either quite stupid, cowardly or subversive politicians are avoiding this reality.

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I always felt western society was underpinned by Graeco-Roman foundations, in particular in the areas of education, philosophy, art and democracy.

Both the ancient Greeks and the Ancient Romans allowed same-sex marriage. We should not forget that the new morality is simply the old morality. It's long past time we got back to these roots that underpin our society.

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Name calling is happening far too often in these debates. And isn't it always the fanatical activists (often not truly representative of the population they purport to represent) who do this most often?

Every time I see someone who tries to muzzle others' rights to their beliefs by name calling I know for sure that they are the real bigots. They think labelling other people things such as "bigots" or "gay-bashers" will shut them up.

In fact, I find that most people who are against gay marriage aren't against gays (many whom have friends who are gay). Rather, they are against the concept of losing the integrity of marriage and family - i.e., husband, wife and children.

I, for one, want to be known as a husband to my wife, and vice versa, not some politically correct meaningless mess of a definition like "Half Lifeform #1", "human #1" or "progenitor A". Hey wait, those same idiots will also eventually question that men shouldn't be 1 or A because that discriminates women as it places them 2nd. Stupidity at its height.

So, for a start, if you want to say something, say it without labelling others. It just goes to show how afraid you are of proper debate.

The gay marriage bill sucks as it forces a redefinition of about 200 terms just to accommodate it! Not very different from the anti-smacking bill which targets all parents, mostly good, and does nothing against child abuse. New Zealand is barking up the wrong tree.

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Read the legislation and you will see that there is no definition of what "marriage" is. Only the common law (judges) has defined what it means in a traditional sense, which is not to say that it cannot be accommodated to the exigencies of modern life and, in fact, is something that the non-quoted judgments have agreed on. Your comments on forced redefinition are therefore redundant, if not ill-informed.
The bare fact is that NZ must give recognition to our domestic and international obligations in the area of human rights, in this particular case to the right to be free from discrimination in terms of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, the Human Rights Act, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The issue is the differentiation as to treatment of persons who have certain personal characteristics (homosexual orientation), which treatment has no reasonable and objective criteria to justify the difference in impact on them, hence the necessity to reform the domestic legislation. It is not uncommon for a simple policy choice to require wide-sweeping yet consequential amendments to legislation - this does not necessarily mean that because of the many consequential changes that the process is difficult.
Nor is it a good justification for not acting where there is a need to implement social policy in order to prevent our government from coming under international scrutiny for failing to meet our international and domestic obligations and commitments in such an important area as human rights.
I'm sure if you were the subject of discrimination that you would be jumping up and down to ensure that what was affirmed as protected (your rights) would be enforced. Honestly, until you do some research, you really do sound like an ignorant, conservative bigot ... and that is labelling attached to information and the position of the law, not to personal belief.

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I will be the first to think same-sex marriage is a good idea when either male of the union can give birth to a child.

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You do realise that "same sex marriage" is not the same as "gay marriage", right? And that on your logic, you think it is a good idea for two women to be able to marry, but not two men?

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The reason I oppose gay marriage is because it makes fundamental changes to the structure of our society. If gay marriage is considered OK then it tells our children that is normal to be gay, which in turn gives them the choice as to whether they want to be gay or not as it is a perfectly acceptable norm in our new and enlightened society.
As a result, children will think that bisexuality and homosexuality are normal behaviour. I went to uni with a girl who was bisexual purely because it 'doubled her chances of getting laid' - this will become the new societal norm where anything goes.

Children raised in a family with two daddies or two mummies will think this perfectly normal and will see nothing wrong with choosing to scr*w whoever they like, regardless of gender. As the late Michael Jackson once said - 'It's OK, it's a perfectly natural thing'. Saying something doesn't make it true.

NZ society with gay marriage = a society where children think a society with no morals is normal, and they will be taught this in school to reinforce it. There's nothing bigoted about opposing gay marriage as the basis for doing so is to protect the basic structure of the society we live in. As an example, divorce used to be uncommon but now is common, and look at the problems it has created. Lowering the moral standards of a society is not in its best interests. In an effort to be progressive and enlightened the structure of our society is weakened.

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I am opposed to the change in the definition of marriage but I guess it's too late to change that. As a practising Christian, my concern is that religions should have the right to refuse to marry same sex couples, either by their priests or in their places of worship without the risk of legal action. The Brits have written this into their legislation but have we?

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"As a practising Christian, my concern is that religions should have the right to refuse to marry same sex couples, either by their priests or in their places of worship without the risk of legal action. The Brits have written this into their legislation but have we?"

Yes. We have.

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All very well, but how soon will I be legally allowed to marry my dog?

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But would your dog want to marry you?

And the fact you can't answer that question might show how silly your original one is.

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