Today Family First sent out the following media release to scare the ill informed that the Marriage Equality Act would force clergy to perform marriages between gay and lesbian couples. Their release is as follows:
Church Ministers Cannot Refuse To Perform Same-Sex Marriages
A legal opinion obtained by Family First NZ from Barrister Ian Bassett describes the Louisa Wall’s Marriage Amendment Act Bill, if it is enacted, as having the following effects:
1. Marriage celebrants (including church ministers) exercising their public function will be in breach of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the Human Rights Act 1993, if they refuse to perform their public function as marriage celebrants by reason of the same sex of a couple seeking to be married.
2. Church ministers, marriage celebrants, church elders/ 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.
3. Adoption agencies and hoteliers 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 married couple by reason of the same sex of the couple.
The Human Rights Commission had earlier issued a statement on its website saying that “…religious officials and leaders are free to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs.”
Ian Bassett’s legal opinion says that the view of the Human Rights Commission is legally wrong.
Grant Illingworth QC agrees in principle with the legal opinion provided by Ian Bassett.
The following is a legal opinion by David Ryken, a human rights attorney that counters this opinion. Download.