Media Release 24 October 2012
Family First NZ says that the promoter of the Marriage Amendment Bill has publicly admitted that churches, mosques and tabernacles will have to host ‘same-sex weddings’.
In response to a question at an Auckland University debate earlier this month about freedom of religion and whether churches will be forced to host ‘same sex marriages’, Labour MP Louisa Wall responded ‘In theory, someone might choose to get married in a church hall, and if that church hires it out, then they can’t discriminate’.
“This backs up the legal opinion Family First received which said that ‘churches supplying services to the public will be in breach of the Human Rights Act 1993, if they refuse to supply services to a couple seeking to be married, by reason of the same sex of the couple’. Louisa Wall argues that churches already face this issue – but she is incorrect,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“Churches do not already have to host ‘same sex weddings’ in their churches, because there is no such thing yet as a ‘same sex wedding’. That issue will only arise if the Bill is passed. A ‘same sex wedding’ in a church, mosque or tabernacle would signify acceptance of the ‘marriage’. That would be entirely new and would certainly not be business as usual for churches.”
“An obligation on a church to host a ‘same sex wedding’, in combination with the quite separate issue of church ministers who are celebrants who will not be able to refuse to perform ‘same sex weddings’, would seriously prejudice the religious freedoms of churches and ministers.”
A legal opinion obtained by Family First NZ from Barrister Ian Bassett stated that marriage celebrants (including church ministers) exercising their public function will be in breach of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, if they refuse to perform their public function as marriage celebrants by reason of the same sex of a couple seeking to be married. And church ministers, marriage celebrants, church elders and leaders, photographers and caterers and any other person or entity supplying services to the public will be in breach of the Human Rights Act 1993, if they refuse to supply services to a couple seeking to be married, by reason of the same sex of the couple.
Family First NZ is warning faith-based groups such as Muslim, Sikh, Jew and Christian that they should speak up before it’s too late.