Members of Select Committee on same sex marriage “hostile”

Grace Carroll, a Catholic design student from Wellington, has accused  some members of the  select committee on same sex marriage of behaving in a hostile and “menacing” way to submitters who are against a proposed law change for same sex couples.

In a press release from Family First she says when she appeared before the committee on December 10 those who appeared before her were all in support of the bill, and were treated well, but when her name was called the mood changed.

“The heavy air was charged with emotion and I am still astounded that I managed to walk towards that table and chair despite apprehension and feeling sick at heart at my different treatment and the apparent hostility,” she said.

Carroll said in the middle of her speech, acting chair Chris Auchinvole got up to get a drink, and when she finished her speech with the words of Martin Luther King Jr, Hague was “unsavoury and menacing” to her, calling her homophobic.

“The whole experience was very strange. There was a lack of common courtesy and respect,” she said.

Auchinvole said it was common for committee members to get drinks and go to the toilet during submissions as long as a quorum was maintained and that Carroll had already made a written submission to which she was speaking.

He said appearing before a select committee “can be an intimidating experience if you were too sensitive” but members went to great lengths to make people feel relaxed.

He said Carroll was “very direct” and “passionate” in delivering her submission.

“Lots of people were emotional but it’s an emotional topic,” he said.

Hague said he felt all submitters – especially individuals – had been treated with respect. He said he would be concerned if an 18-year-old felt bullied, but he didn’t think that was the case. However, he admitted he did express exasperation when she began talking about “virtue”.

“That makes my hackles rise . . . I find it offensive,” he said.

“Even more outrageous is her quoting Martin Luther King at the end. I am certain that my feelings would have been obvious at the time: co-opting words from the leader of the American civil rights movement, whose widow has been a vocal advocate of marriage equality, to deny civil rights to others is going to stir strong reactions.”

Hague said he never used the word homophobic.


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