Superannuitants are holding out in a dwindling minority
opposing gay marriage, as 2013 looks as if it could be the
year for it to become a legal reality.
A Herald-DigiPoll survey this month into same-sex marriages
found a stark generational divide: 60% of respondents older
than 65 said marriage should remain only between a man and a
woman, but 70% of people under 40 said the law should be
changed to allow same-sex marriages.
Labour MP Louisa Wall, who is behind the Bill to legalise gay
marriage, said studies from universities found even stronger
support among young people, above 80%.
''For older people, homosexuality was foreign; it meant
things like mental illnesses.
''It was illegal. People could go to jail - so, of course,
they can't relate to it.
''Older New Zealanders wouldn't have seen two same-sex people
who love each other.''
Homosexuality was criminal until 1986.
''The reality for them growing up is they've only seen
relationships [between a man and a woman],'' Ms Wall said.
But the generational divide was really between grandparents
''It's their grandchildren's generation who, in polls, say
they're the most supportive.
''If [older New Zealanders] have grandchildren who are gay,
or exploring expressions [of sexuality], you'll want to have
the opportunity to celebrate with them. For your
grandchildren to have the option to marry will be a wonderful
Ms Wall said the 37% of older people who supported gay
marriage might well have been influenced by their
Family First national director Bob McCroskie said there were
other divides, too - men were more opposed than women, and
there were differences between rural and urban constituents.
''It simply shows it's an issue that's polarised New
Such an issue should not be decided by 120 MPs, but rather
put to a public referendum, Mr McCroskie said. If there was
an open debate on the underlying issues - particularly with
an emphasis on the fact civil unions had been legislated - he
was confident marriage could be left as it is.
Gay marriage would become an increasingly contested fight
through 2013 and the Government should not be rushing through
the process to avoid it becoming an election issue in 2014,
New Zealand's Marriage Equality Bill passed its first reading
this year by 80 votes to 40 and was sent to a select
The major issue so far has been churches seeking a legal
clause to let ministers refuse to marry same-sex couples, an
apparent conflict between discrimination and freedom of
The committee will report to Parliament on February 28, with
a second reading scheduled for March 20. A third and final
reading could happen in May.
Overall, 59% of 500 survey respondents backed gay marriage
and 38% were against - compared to 54% and 41% in June. The
poll in the second week of December has a margin of error of