We have only two days to wait until New Zealand’s 50th Parliament passes Louisa Wall’s Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill into law. Those opposing the bill know the likely outcome of the third reading and are getting increasingly desperate to stop the bill. Family First have tried to play the "think of the children" card, however, the reality is that their stance puts children at risk.
This post is not intended to discuss the effectiveness of same-sexed parenting, but to identify an existing threat to the well-being of adopted children and how the bill will solve that problem.
It’s safe to say that Family First don’t want homosexuals raising children and that they are opposed to the aspect of the bill that will allow gay couples to adopt children. And while it’s true that currently gay couples cannot adopt children, Family First seem to have missed the fact that gay individuals already can adopt.
Currently, if a gay couple wish to adopt a child, only one of the prospective parents can apply. Once they have successfully adopted the child, the second parent can also become the child’s legal guardian. As current laws stand, a child can have two adoptive gay parents. The problem that exists is that the process of adding the second parent creates a limbo period that needlessly threatens the child’s well-being.
The second parent can only be added as the partner of the parent who adopted the child. This process was designed to allow new partners to become a legal guardian of a child and thus there is a requirement that both parties have raised the child together for at least a year. The duration of a couple’s relationship prior to raising the child is not taken into consideration.
The child who has found two loving parents can have the legal protection of only one parent for at least a year. Furthermore, should the first parent die during the year, the child is left parentless.
Imagine a scenario where a child requires hospitalisation while the first parent is away or dead. The child would be denied the right to be comforted and cared for by the person who in every sense is their parent, except for the legal guardianship which they cannot yet apply for. Such a scenario is the daily fear of families in this limbo situation. Louisa Wall’s bill would provide protection to these children and to these families where protection currently does not exist.
If you really want to think of the children, ignore Family First’s unscientific fear-mongering and look at the facts. The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill allows a couple to adopt a child as a cohesive family without dragging the child through legal limbo. This bill provides new legal safety to children. To deny the bill is to deny children of that safety.