NZ Bishops' last-ditch bid to block gay union Bill
The Catholic Church yesterday made an 11th-hour attempt to block the Civil Union Bill, which is due to be put to a final vote in Parliament this week.
The New Zealand Herald reports that the country's nine Catholic bishops sent a letter to all their churches setting out their reasons for opposing the bill, which they believe to be a bill allowing for gay marriage in all but name.
The bishops said the bill would erode the "special and unique position" of marriage and the family in society, and that MPs who said it was necessary for promoting the civil rights of all New Zealanders were putting forward a spurious argument.
"This is a fallacy. Civil rights, such as inheritance, next-of-kin status, benefits and grants, can be ensured by other appropriate legislation without any need to give same-sex and de facto relationships the same legal and social standing as marriage," they said.
"As your bishops, we ask you to pray earnestly about this matter.
"In all conscience we found ourselves obliged to take the unprecedented step of urging you to inform yourselves of how your own Member of Parliament, and the list MPs of political parties, have voted on the bill and to make this one of the things you take into account when you cast your vote in next year's general election."
It was a clear message not to vote for any MP who supports the bill, and was apparently intended to make the MPs think about the consequences.
National MP Richard Worth, who is drafting an alternative to the bill, is proposing "civil relationships" instead of civil unions.
"In contrast to civil unions, a civil relationship will be available to any two people wishing to register their relationship, including family members," he said.
Bishops' last-ditch bid to block Civil Union Bill (New Zealand Herald 6/12/04)
Bishops call on NZ Catholics to take MPs Civil Union vote into account at next General Election (Catholic Communications NZ 1/12/04)
Maxim Institute (opposed to Bill)
Civil Union Bill (supportive of Bill)
NZ Bishops threaten Govt on gay union Bill (CathNews 2/12/04)
NZ Catholics threaten Labour over Civil Unions Bill (CathNews 30/9/04)
NZ gay law 'to make moral wasteland' (CathNews 29/6/04)
Catholics and Civil Union Bill (IRN/NZCity 4/12/04)
High rate of depression in homosexuals blamed on "society," not behavior (Catholic News Agency 3/12/04)
Bishops turn up the heat on MPs (New Zealand Herald 2/12/04)
Catholic threat to Civil Union Bill (Dominion Post/stuff.co.nz 2/12/04)
Use your vote, urge churches (Dominion Post/stuff.co.nz 6/12/04)
6 Dec 2004