The debate over same-sex marriage is more or less over in the realm of civic politics in NZ – proponents of SSM overwhelmingly won the final vote in parliament. The opinion ‘on the ground’ where the real people are in NZ is probably rather different (more like a 50-50 split, by most representative polls that I am aware of), but be that as it may, there are interesting issues in the background of the debate.
One is the place of religious reasoning in public policy discussion.
In the final speech of the debate in parliament, I was intrigued to hear Moana Mackey say something like “it’s not the role of the State to uphold one group’s religious beliefs over another’s”. This sounds nice – good ol’ church-state separation and all that. But, the difficulty is that tonight one group’s religious beliefs concerning the nature of marriage and human flourishing were effectively rejected by the State.
It’s not clear that the State can be entirely neutral on matters of religion, given religion’s pervasive claims over all of life!