Public opposition to same-sex marriage has grown
significantly since a law change to legalise it came before
Parliament, a Herald DigiPoll survey shows.
Same-sex marriage campaigners blame scaremongering by
religious groups for the increase in opposition, saying
lobbying has intensified as the bill progresses through
Opponents of gay marriage say the jump shows people are
waking up to the negative social effects of changing the
Asked what best fitted their view on marriage law, 48 per
cent of those polled said marriage should remain between a
man and a woman - an increase of 7.5 percentage points from a
poll last June.
The number of people who supported a law change to allow
same-sex couples to marry fell 4 percentage points in that
time, but still outnumbered the opponents by a small margin.
The Marriage Amendment Bill is expected to return to
Parliament tomorrow for the committee stages after easily
passing its second reading by 77 votes to 44. It could become
law next month.
Labour MP Louisa Wall, the bill's sponsor, said the poll
showed a majority of New Zealanders still in support of
same-sex marriage, "despite the opposition spending what
seems vast amounts of money on an active and negative
campaign built on fear and misinformation''.
The poll was taken in the week of the second reading of the
bill, when lobbying from both sides of the debate was at its
Ms Wall noted the generational divide in the poll -
two-thirds of over-Gay marriage shock - poll shows rising
opposition to law change
65s opposed a law change, while young people overwhelmingly
"It is young New Zealanders that this bill speaks to ... and
when issues such as equality and discrimination are
highlighted, where they stand on the issue is a solid
foundation of support.''
Aucklander Taryn Kerr, 25, said she was moved to speak out in
favour of same-sex marriage because those who supported it
considered the bill's passage a foregone conclusion while
opponents were increasingly well-funded and vocal.
"Religious groups have really ramped their activism. I
received a brochure the other day which was very
sophisticated propaganda. The way they went about it, the
wording, the imagery, was quite strong.''
Ms Kerr, who is engaged to marry partner Sasha Kljakovic on
Valentine's Day next year if the bill passed, was concerned
about the polarised debate.
"A lot of people don't know gay people and have these ideas
because they see people portrayed in certain ways. Until you
see the full depth of breadth of somebody and know their
stories you may be scared of difference simply because it's
different to you. When in actual fact, we're exactly the
"We have burning red faces with hurt and anger because Sasha,
my partner, is training her butt off to be a doctor. There's
a certain irony in my partner training to save lives and yet
those people won't give her a chance to live her life the way
she wants to.''
Family First lobby group founder Bob McCoskrie, who opposes
same-sex marriage, said the poll backed his belief that the
longer the law-change debate continued, the more public
concern would escalate.
"We get past the slogans of equality and discrimination and
start asking the bigger questions such as 'do we need to
change the long-held definition of marriage or can we provide
legal rights through the Civil Union Act?'.''
He said claims his group and others had tipped the polls with
scaremongering were "absolute baloney''.
Religious groups have expressed fears that an amendment to
the law does not protect religious ministers from breaching
discrimination laws, and say not enough attention has been
paid to changes to same-sex adoption law in the bill.
The debate over the legislation appeared to have solidified
many New Zealanders' views, with nearly 98 per cent of those
polled now prepared to take a firm stance on gay marriage.
Christian lobby group New Zealanders for Marriage intends to
hold a vigil in Parliament grounds tomorrow night (Wed) which
it hoped would give politicians second thoughts about
supporting the bill.
Prayers will be led by the Catholic Archbishop, John Dew, and
other Christians, a statement from the group says.
"Changing the legal definition and therefore the meaning of
the word marriage doesn't change what it has always been - a
unique covenant between a man and a woman," the statement
"Opinion polls have shown that an increasing majority of the
public do not support this change, and politicians are
asserting their opinions over the will of the people in
supporting this bill."