INDEPENDENT NEWS

Referenda on Moral Issues Harm Communities

Published: Tue 7 Dec 2004 11:13 AM
Referenda on Moral Issues Harm Communities
"While a referendum on the Civil Union Bill might seem like a pragmatic way of resolving competing viewpoints, it would have damaging social consequences," said Rev Dr Margaret Mayman (spokesperson for Christians for Civil Unions) today, citing recent research.
"Recent research based on thirty USA studies has found that referenda about same sex marriage can affect the lives of both gay and lesbian and heterosexual people in adverse ways. While Civil Unions are distinct from marriage, and include both opposite sex and same sex couples, they have generated a similar degree of hostile and divisive rhetoric which makes us think the research is also applicable here," said Margaret Mayman.
The research found that referenda on same-sex marriage can lead to serious negative psychological consequences for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. They create high levels of psychological and social stress for many gay and lesbian individuals as well as for the children of lesbian and gay families. Studies have demonstrated that these referenda on this issue can lead to increased anxiety, depression, alienation, and isolation.
"However, the negative implications are not limited to people in same-sex relationships.
"The political fights tend to reinvigorate old stereotypes and lead to deep divisions within families, churches, and communities. Voting on rights for minority groups tends to increase prejudices that divide communities. The US research indicates that society may pay a heavy social price for putting the rights of any group up for a vote," said Antony McFelin, counselor and former Catholic priest.
Christians for Civil Unions believes that parliament should pass the Civil Union Bill this week and the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill early next year and allow all New Zealanders to move into a future of tolerance, compassion, and celebration of relationships that are mutual, committed and life-giving.
Reference: The Dangers of a Same-Sex Marriage Referendum for Community and Individual Well-Being," Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies P.O. Box 2603 Amherst, MA 01004 413-557-0145 www.iglss.org

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