NZ Herald 26 March 2013
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 Parliament. Opponents of gay marriage say the jump shows people are waking up to the negative social effects of changing the Marriage Act. 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.
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”.
Family First lobby group founder Bob McCroskie, 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.