‘Same-sex Marriage Bill’ renders terms “husband” “wife” and “spouse” meaningless

Media Release 24 March 2013:

The SPCS has petitioned the Attorney-General, Hon. Chris Finlayson, to fulfil his legal and moral obligations to report to Parliament forthwith under s. 7 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (BOR), on ALL aspects of Labour MP Louisa Wall’s legally flawed Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill that in any way breach BOR in terms of its amendments to the Marriage Act 1955. SPCS contends that the bill blatantly discriminates against persons based on their “married status” and “religious belief” and furthermore, because its concept of “same-sex marriage” (SSM) constitutes an oxymoron *, parliament must reject the bill. See: http://www.spcs.org.nz/2013/open-petition-to-attorney-general-to-strike-down-marriage-definition-of-marriage-amendment-bill/

The Government Administration Committee has significantly altered the bill since it was introduced to parliament, so that it now includes dozens of “Consequential Amendments” (under Schedule 2, Part 1) to 14 separate Acts of Parliament – involving the replacement the terms “husband” and “wife” with “spouse”; “husband and wife” with “spouses” or “married couple”; and “husband or wife” with “either spouses”. By amending the Marriage Act so that “marriage”, currently restricted to couples comprising a male and female, includes same-sex couples too, it seeks to radically redefine (in effect) the terms “spouse” and “married couple” to include SSM, thereby rendering the traditional terms “husband” and “wife” and “spouse” and “married couple” (based on opposite sexes), meaningless in law. For example, ss. 24(3) and 366(2) of the Crimes Act 1961 (1961 No 43) currently state:

24 Compulsion

(3) Where a woman who is married or in a civil union commits an offence, the fact that her husband or civil union partner was present at the commission of the offence does not of itself raise a presumption of compulsion.

366 Comment on failure to give evidence

  • (1)[Repealed]

(2)Where a person charged with an offence refrains from calling his wife or her husband, as the case may be, as a witness, no comment adverse to the person charged shall be made thereon.

The Bill (see Schedule 2), if passed, will replace “husband” with “spouse” in s. 24, so that the status of a married (heterosexual) woman’s true spouse is no longer referred to as a “husband” in law, but rather as a ‘spouse’ – a term redefined to include both individuals involved in any same-sex. The distinctive and unique meaning of the terms “husband”, “wife” and “spouses” (as involving opposite sexes in a traditional marriage union) is under direct attack and made meaningless.

If passed, the bill will replace “his wife or her husband” with “his or her husband or wife” in s. 366(2). This additional negation of the meaning of “husband” and “wife” renders the terms meaningless, because it would define in effect, each “married” same-sex member in SSM as either a “husband” or “wife” in law. This is an absurdity, and a fundamental attack on those persons who have become “husband” and “wife” under the Marriage Act 1955. This blatant manipulation and corruption of language by a redefiniton of the status of those married under the Principle Act, constitutes discrimination against those having married status under this Act. It constitutes a serious breach of their human rights under s. 19 of BOR (see s. 21 (1)(b)(ii) Human Rights Act 1993) to be free from discrimination. Additionally, it discriminates against all those who hold religious beliefs that “marriage” involves only a man (husband) and a woman (wife).

Society for Promotion of Community Standards Inc. (“SPCS”) (Contact spcs.org@gmail.com)

(*Oxymoron: A figure of speech in which incongruous or seemingly contradictory terms appear side by side)

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