Archbishop Dew hoped for more time to debate marriage bill

On Wednesday evening New Zealand became the thirteenth country in the world, and the first in the Asia/Pacific region, to support same gender marriage.

Labour MP Louisa Wall’s Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, allowing same-sex couples to marry, has passed its third reading and final vote in Parliament.

In front of a packed public gallery 77 MPs voted in favour, and 44 voted against the bill.

Speaking before the final reading of the marriage bill, John Dew, the Catholic Archbishop of Wellington, and the President of the NZ Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said that for him it was important to express the church’s view that marriage should be between one man and one woman for the purposes of procreation.

Dew distanced himself from the more extreme and offensive lobbying that took place in the days leading up to the final passage of the marriage bill.

He said he had wanted a robust, vigorous and respectful debate.

“We certainly don’t espouse to any extremist views,” he said.

“From our point of view we do believe that there has been a respectful listening to each other.”

Dew said he would have liked more time for the full implications of the move to be considered because “some people would think if it’s legal it’s moral.”

After the  marriage bill was passed the New Zealand Catholic Bishops expressed their deep sadness that, despite the fact that such a large percentage of the public are opposed to it, the marriage bill had become law.

Archbishop  Dew said, “We find it bizarre that what has been discarded is an understanding of marriage that has its origin in human nature and common to every culture, and that almost all references to husband and wife will be removed from legislation referencing marriage. We know many New Zealanders stand with us in this.”

“Marriage is the essential human institution that predates religion and state. It is a committed union between a man and a woman which has a natural orientation towards the procreation of new human life,”  Dew said.

“Marriage is founded on sexual difference and the traditional definition of marriage reflects this unique reality.”

“This uniqueness requires a name and definition which distinguishes marriage from any other form of relationship,” he said.

He concluded by saying “We’ve been assured that our religious freedom to teach and practice marriage according to our religious beliefs is protected and we will continue to ensure that this freedom is upheld.”

Before the debate, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said the law change was harmless but he would not be supporting the bill, as he did not think it was the benchmark for equality.

“It does seem a bit odd that an institution that is becoming much less used and much less popular has now become the benchmark for equal treatment of people.

“People can have equal treatment (if) they get registered by the state with their relationship; we’ve got plenty of room for a range of arrangements.”


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