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21 June 2012
Revised 7 September 2012

Proposed amendments to the Marriage Act

The marriage sacrament.

In the beginning, marriage was a religious institution and even now it retains its religious associations and its essentially religious character.

Marriage was a sacrament ("holy matrimony") regulated by canon law and one of the core institutions of formal religion. Sacraments are "ordained by God" which is to say that they are based on dogma, which, by definition, is not open to dispute.

Being "ordained by God" marriage has a higher status for the religious believer than anything which individuals or social organisations might deem to be a "good idea" off their own bat or according to their own reasoning.

The secular world is suspicious of "dogmatism", yet dogma is the constant resort of the modern secularist for whom, for example, concepts of equality have become dogmatic articles of faith. Secularists can assert that "everyone is equal" and deny that any rational argument could prove the contrary. "Equality" is therefore, a modern dogma, which gives rise to a host of other modern social and economic dogmas. Secular legal systems are also dogmatic, as all law must be. Citizens are required to follow the law, and any argument that a law is outmoded, unreasonable, or ineffectual will not spare them from the consequences of a transgression. Parents are dogmatic when "laying down the law" to their children, because they will not allow a child to circumvent their authority with clever arguments or bland assurances.

Likewise the institution of marriage was founded on dogma which the founders of religion considered too important to be subject to debate as to its purpose, merit, consequences or necessity.

Traditional marriage: a relationship between males

Secularists commonly assume that marriage concerns relations between men and women but it also concerns the relations between men and other men. In the religious understanding relations between men and women are driven by sexual desire, which must be channelled, managed and controlled through the institution of marriage, while relations between men must be founded on moral obligations (commandments) acting in restraint of male desire. The system of moral obligation is the necessary premise of a social order based on the collective of males, as all human societies have been hitherto, and the obligations are spelt out in religious commandments which, among other things, admonish men not to covet the wives or property of other men. Those commandments in turn predicate formal systems of marriage and property ownership.

Marriage is ordained because the fulfilment of sexual desire between men and women must be allowed for the sake of procreation, albeit in ways which do not undermine the social cohesion of the male collective. That objective has been achieved more or less through the institution of marriage. Sexual competition is effectively restricted to unmarried men and women in the process of courting. Just as importantly, particular loyalties and affections are also restricted. A woman is permitted to put her loyalty to her husband ahead of her social duty (for example by not being required to testify against her husband in a court of law) but outside of the marriage relationship sexual or familial affections (in particular affections between men) are not allowed to take precedence over general social obligations. Marriage then is an institution which not only provides for a close relationship between the marriage partners, but also provides for a strong relationship between the marriage partners and the wider social order.

The laws of religion, including the marriage law, have the attributes of both statute and natural law. Like statute they are imposed upon us, but at the same time they are consistent with natural human instincts, desires and innate beliefs. Thus marriage both obliges and (in the first instance) enables a man to provide for his own children and the mother of his children, to which he normally has a natural inclination. At the same time it frees him from supporting the offspring of other men, to which he may have a natural disinclination.

Traditional marriage is a social phenomenon with wide ramifications. It imposes sanctions and prohibitions upon the full range of relations between the sexes, with implicit social objectives and wide-ranging consequences. It has the effect of regulating sexual competition between men, simplifying the issue of sexual consent between men and women, and facilitating the nurturing of children.

The secularisation of marriage

However over the centuries civil society and the secular state have detached themselves from their religious origins, and have taken over many of the religious functions and institutions, such as the enactment of law, the distribution of charity, the education of the young, and oversight of marriage. It has done so in the name of reason, which has proved to a double edged sword. The reasoned arguments for social welfare, which superseded the dogma commanding charity, have themselves been overtaken by rational liberal arguments against social welfarism. Similar unanticipated developments have occurred in the areas of education, which has increasingly become the preserve of vested interests engaged in training young minds to serve the same vested interests. The lesson to be drawn from all this is that we should be cautious about abandoning old-established dogma in the name of new-fangled reason. Reason and dogma will always co-exist. Modern secular society has simply traded the old dogmas of religion for the new dogmas of social Darwinism and liberal economics, and it is not at all clear that the trade has been of nett benefit to humanity.

In this process of secularisation, the character of marriage has changed profoundly. Key changes which have directly impacted upon the marriage institution have been the abolition of laws against adultery, the simple dissolution of marriage ("no-fault" divorce) and legal recognition and acceptance of sexual relationships outside of marriage. Changes which have indirectly affected the institution of marriage include various changes to taxation laws and the provision of state financial support to unmarried or divorced mothers and fathers through the DPB. For the most part these changes have been made on worthy compassionate grounds but they have also tended to undermine the marriage institution and have been factors in the re-emergence of many of the problems which marriage was designed to address. These problems have been aggravated by the narrow limits to the compassion of the New Zealand state, and a clear unwillingness on the part of the state to bear the social and financial consequences of the changes which it has enacted in the institution of marriage.

Fundamental religious laws are never as arbitrary as they may sometimes appear. They are always reflective of innate human ideas. In common with all statute law, their purpose is to remove judgement and retribution from the prerogative of the individual to the prerogative of the social organisation. That is only possible, and only necessary, where there are innate ideas about what is right, fair and just. The law removes the individual's right to vengeance in favour of the social right to prohibit and punish the activities which would cause individuals to seek vengeance in the first place. This simple social contract which is the basis of civil society is founded on fundamental human nature, or, in the religious terminology, the commandments of the God in whose image man was created.

The institution of marriage was a way of avoiding violence or antipathy caused by sexual competition between males, and thus a means of maintaining social cohesion between men. Through the obligations it imposed upon the husband, it also provided for the material needs of women, as wives and mothers, and for their children. Some of these functions of the marriage institution are now redundant, or appear to be so. Women, including many mothers, are now able to provide the necessities of life for themselves and their children, and failing that, the welfare state may assume what was previously the role of the husband as breadwinner, or the church as dispenser of charity.

Marriage in the new liberal model is non-permanent, non-exclusive, no longer the only social relationship within which sexual relations are permitted to take place, and no longer a practical economic necessity for a woman who desires to raise children. However the new model is unable to overcome the fundamental traits of human nature which gave rise to the institution of marriage in the first place. It is probable that more women are killed (by their partners) on suspicion of adultery in New Zealand, where adultery is legal, than in Iran, where it is illegal and punishable by execution. Solo mothers may receive the DPB, but taxpayers are easily provoked to resent bearing the cost of raising other parents' children. Laws may have changed, but the human passions which they were designed to channel, divert or control, have not.

“No-fault” divorce and legal prostitution

The equal division of matrimonial property on dissolution of marriage was a logical and arguably necessary consequence of the introduction of "no fault" or “on-demand” divorce. However no-fault divorce-on-demand and equal division of matrimonial property had adverse consequences. In combination, the changes became a license for the "cad and bounder" (of either sex) to enter into marriage with mercenary intent. At the same time it became a deterrent to marriage across the social divide, or marriage between persons of markedly different financial means. For some it became a deterrent to marriage per se. The commercialisation of sexual relations through the legalisation of prostitution further undermined the institution of marriage; those who had been given fresh reasons to fear the consequences of a failed marriage through changes to the divorce law are now able to use the services of prostitutes as a legal alternative to marriage. The pernicious influence of prostitution has also influenced the decline of marriage in other ways. Some young women now see prostitution as an acceptable and even desirable alternative to marriage, while some husbands believe it is acceptable to encourage their wives into the “sex industry”. It is probably fair to say that none of these consequences were intended when the new laws on marriage, divorce and prostitution were enacted by the House of Representatives and assented to by the Queen in her capacity of Head of State. However the failure of the institutions of state to properly consider the moral implications and potential consequences of radical changes to the laws on marriage, divorce and prostitution brings serious reproach upon the New Zealand system of government.

The fraught concepts of "equality" and "rights"

The concept of gay marriage is the end point of many of these questionable modern ideas, in particular the concepts of equality between distinctly different entities, the state as the source of moral sanction, the sexual act as devoid of moral significance, and politics as negotiation between the interests of contending "identity groups".

By equality we mean treating unlike things as if they were the same. When the differences of which we are cognisant are limited to the differences between individuals, then equality is the equality of individuals, and the outcome is politics in which the rights of individuals are recognised regardless of the particular attributes of those individuals: the classic western model of a "rule of law" democracy. When the differences of which we are cognisant are the differences between classes or groups of individuals classified on the basis of race, gender, or sexual orientation, then the outcome is "class politics" or "identity politics" respectively.

Equality of rights between distinct social groups therefore involves the elements of difference or distinction on the one hand ("identity") and sameness ("equality") on the other. Identity politics allows society to be sliced in any number of ways - in terms of race, gender, religion, class, or sexual orientation to name only the most obvious examples. "Women’s liberation" gave us Hilary Clinton and Condoleeza Rice, "black liberation" gave us Colin Powell and Barack Obama, but for the United States and the world how much has fundamentally changed for the better? How many women and how many blacks have been disappointed in the outcomes? Has the strong representation of gay and lesbian politicians in the New Zealand Labour Party brought any conspicuous benefits to the party or the nation or, for that matter, to ordinary citizens who happen to be gay or lesbian? Does identity politics ultimately work only to the particular advantage of a privileged few? Are the "equal rights" sought necessary and effective instruments for the pursuit of the good or do they merely provide the means for a few to acquire personal power?

Extant and novel rights

Identity politics is centered on the notion of rights: both existing legal rights, which are subject to legal process, and, more significantly, newly defined rights which are brought into law through a political process. This has been the pattern by which the rights of women, the rights of ethnic minorities, and the rights of gays have been extended through the actions of their respective "liberation" movements.

In order to extend the rights of subordinate or minority groups through peaceful political process, the dominant or majority group must either be in sympathy with the situation and objectives of the minority, or at least be willing to settle for a pragmatic accommodation with their demands. As a rule, the sympathy of the majority is only forthcoming when the newly proposed rights fit within a transcendent scheme of rights commonly termed "human" or "natural" rights.

However, while the minority may call upon transcendental "human rights" the reality is that minority movements rely first and foremost on the strength of their own collective consciousness, will and desire. The collective will and determination of blacks, women and gays drove social reforms in the decades since the nineteen-sixties. However the very strength of that collective will carries with it the risk of over-reaching the point where the sympathy of the majority turns to resentment, as it so easily can. The activists lose sight of the essential role that popular sympathy plays in any extension of minority rights, and tend to credit their achievements wholy, rather than primarily, to their own strength of will and capability. The former Labour Party Member of Parliament Chris Carter, who pursued his self-identified personal rights to a point where the general public would not follow, is an object case. The ease with which right wing demagogues are able to arouse resentment at supposed Maori privilege is another illustration of the dangers inherent in the pursuit of "rights" which only exist in the subjective consciousness of social minorities.

It is not clear that the gay activist community has yet reached the point where it strains the tolerance of the wider community, and gay marriage may well fit within the popular concept of natural human rights. However, at some point the logic of movements based on a subjective estimation of rights will carry them a step too far for the sympathy and tolerance of the general public.

Relationships of equality are defined by difference and likeness

The "gay" demand for "equality" on the basis of sexual orientation must unavoidably assert the difference between "gay" and "heterosexual" in the very moment that it is asserting their sameness. Therefore the movement for equality is inseparable from the movement towards a separate gay identity and a clearer divide between "gay" and "heterosexual" interests. This is the conundrum faced by the gay movement, and New Zealand society as a whole.

To say that an entity “a” is equal to an entity “b” is to say that in some respect or attribute “a” is the same as “b”. What makes “a” and “b” different is the distinguishing attribute which defines their respective identities as “a” and “b”. They can only be equal in respect of some other attribute which they have in common. For example all individual human beings are distinguished by their unique identity and considered equal by virtue of their common humanity. Males as a group are distinguished from females as a group by their particular gender attributes (their gender identity) and considered equal in respect of the attributes which they share as members of the species Homo sapiens.

By definition no two entities can be equal in respect of their distinguishing attributes. A citizen is considered to have "equal rights" to a Member of Parliament, except in respect of the one attribute which distinguishes the citizen from the parliamentarian, namely the right to sit in parliament and make laws.   To give the citizens the same rights as parliamentarian to sit in parliament would be to effectively abolish the system of representation.   Similarly men cannot be equal to women in respect of the attributes which distinguish them from women. They can only be equal in respect of the attributes which they have in common with women, and vice versa. Gays and heterosexuals are differentiated by their sexual behaviour. Therefore they can only be deemed equal to each other in respect of those things which they have in common. They cannot be considered equal to each other in sexual union, and marriage, as I will argue, is fundamentally concerned with sexual union. Not with love, or commitment or any of those other things that we quite properly associate with marriage, but with sexual union.

The mistaken idea that marriage is primarily about "love and commitment"

The particular proposition is that "gay" couples (homosexual partners) who are in, or wish to enter into, a loving, committed and exclusive relationship should have that commitment recognised by the state as though their relationship was exactly equivalent to the marriage relationship between a husband and wife.

One of the difficulties with this proposition is that "loving and committed" are not actually defining characteristics of the marriage relationship in the Marriage Act. From a spiritual and emotional perspective they are crucially important for the marriage partners, but from a legal perspective they are merely incidental. In law, and in the religious system from which the law derives, a marriage is an exclusive contract between a man and a woman which shall be consummated through the sexual act. Everything else - including love, commitment and even the expectation of offspring - is incidental to the law.

The "moral" arguments for gay marriage based on "love and commitment" are advanced in ignorance, perhaps wilful ignorance, of the real function, purpose, history and social ramifications of the marriage relationship. Therefore, in order to achieve their objectives the advocates of gay marriage are obliged to re-define marriage, rather than to simply extend its legal scope. A homosexual couple do not meet the conventional definition of marriage partners, because they are of the same sex, and the homosexual acts do not meet the definition of the sexual act because, once again, certain similarities between the sexual and homosexual acts - the emotional elements of passion, pleasure and affection - are merely incidental and common to a wide range of human activities.

Thus "gay" couples can be granted the "right to marry" only by redefining marriage in a way which effectively abolishes it. Therefore the entire exercise would seem to be pointless. It also raises a conundrum. If the only criterion for marriage is a "loving, committed and exclusive" relationship could purely platonic relationships be included? Why cannot a man marry his sister? Why should the state discriminate against those who are engaged in a committed and loving incestuous relationship? Why could not a thirteen year old girl marry her "Best Friend Forever"? The reason is simple: marriage is not primarily concerned with "loving, committed and exclusive" relationships. In essence it is a matter of society consenting to and sanctifying the sexual union of two individuals. By establishing the institution of "gay marriage" society would really be sanctifying homosexual acts.

The fallacious belief that the present Marriage Act discriminates against homosexuals

The Marriage Act could be said to discriminate against a man who wishes to marry his mother, and to discriminate against a man who wishes to marry another man.  By the same token the Crimes Act  could be said to discriminate against the man who wants to start a fire in a crowded theatre.  However we accept that discrimination as proper and just and necessary and we do not make exceptions for people who claim, rightly or otherwise, that they have an innate urge to light fires in theatres.

Real discrimination is always explicit discrimination.   For instance the Marriage Act discriminates on the basis of age, along with virtually the entire body of statute law, and it does so by means of the phrases  "over the age of 18 years..." and "under the age of 16 years...".   Similarly, the laws in the United States of American and the Union of South Africa which discriminated against blacks or coloured people explicitly and necessarily referred to "white", "European", "Caucasian" and "Black", "negro", "African", "coloured" and so on.

However there is no law in New Zealand which explicitly refers to homosexuals or gays.  There is no law which applies or does not apply to homosexuals, and therefore there is no law which can be said to discriminate against homosexuals.  Ms Wall claims that a gay person is not free to take out a marriage license, but as the law now stands he or she is free to do exactly that.   Many gays choose not to take out a marriage license for the simple reason that they have no desire to enter into a marriage as defined and permitted by law.   That is their choice, but there is no over-riding reason why the terms of the marriage license should be changed to accommodate their peculiar desires. If a hunter tried to argue that he should be licensed to shoot kiwi because others are licensed to shoot ducks one would hope that he would receive short shrift.   The homosexual demand for "equal marriage rights" is just as nonsensical.

The fallacious belief that gay marriage will affect those who enter into such a marriage

Many parliamentarians have argued that because the proposed change to the Marriage Act will have no direct impact on their personal lives, they see no reason to oppose it.  In response to the suggestion that as a logical consequence of gay marriage a man should be allowed to marry his dog, a National Party cabinet minister responded "How does  this affect me?  So long as the dog keeps away from my lawn I don't mind".  The flippant response signifies an underlying presumption that whatever goes on in society which does not directly or immediately affect us as individuals can be safely ignored.   This is both a fallacy and a dereliction of moral duty.   Ultimately, everything is connected, or, as stated in the dictum from a time when politics was still considered a branch of moral philosophy "No man is an island".   Bestiality and homosexuality will have consequences even for those who do not themselves follow such practices.  The common retort from the gay lobby "If you don't like same-sex marriage, then don't marry someone of the same sex" is another such response which quite falsely implies that gay marriage will only affect those who enter into same sex marriages.  The reality, which even the gay marriage advocates acknowledge, is that gay marriage will have ramifications for traditionally married couples and for society at large

All forms of partial affection are distinguished by particular characteristics, and not all are blessed by the state.

The assumption that state and society would wish to bless intimate relations of any kind between two or more parties is not a given. In general, society tends to discourage any form of partial affection between its members, for such affections may give rise to tensions, jealousies and suspicions of favoritism, and bring into doubt the primary loyalty of individuals to the social collective. There is a wide spectrum of particular human relationships ranging from commercial corporations, business partnerships, sports clubs and churches to gangs, cliques and conspiracies of various kinds. Some are recognised by the state, some are tolerated and some are proscribed always on the basis of their particular characteristics and social purpose. Different legal structures, such as limited liability companies, incorporated societies and so on are constructed to provide legal frameworks for those relationships which are condoned by the state and society. Like the limited liability company and the incorporated society, the legal marriage relationship is a particular case which serves a particular purpose or purposes, namely to regulate sexual competition and to provide a legal structure for the raising of children. The unique character of the marriage relationship has given rise to the unique institution of legal marriage, blessed by the church and approved by the state. Homosexual unions, however, are fundamentally different to the sexual union between a man and woman. They do not produce offspring and there is no particular reason why they require any kind of legal structure. Neither is there is any reason at all why they should be included within the same legal structure as the sexual union between a man and a woman, from which they are distinguished by definition.

Gay marriage will not necessarily lead to greater tolerance of gays

Identity politics eventually results in formal recognition of the distinctions between people of different classes, races, genders, and sexual orientation, with separate constitutional, legislative and fiscal provisions being made for the each group. This is what has happened between Maori and European in New Zealand, and if the push for gay marriage is successful it will likewise tend to formalise the distinction between "gay" and "heterosexual". "Gay" will be officially recognised (as it already is to some degree in the Civil Union legislation) but that will not necessarily make for greater tolerance and understanding between "gay" and "heterosexual" communities, just as we cannot say for certain that the division of New Zealand political representation into "Maori" and "European" parties has made for great tolerance and understanding between the races.

Religious fundamentalists in particular, will not become more tolerant of homosexuality as a result of gay marriage. Patriarchal religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam promote male bonding and that, paradoxically, is why they proscribe homosexual relationships. Homosexuality shifts male bonding from God to man, from the general to the particular, from the spiritual to the profane and from the realm of morals to the realm of sexual gratification. It compromises the spiritual order and subverts the social collective of all males which is the lynchpin of patriarchal religion. It is only tolerated in those social orders in which the unity of males - represented in protestant Christianity as "the priesthood of all believers" - is not considered an essential social premise.

Homosexuality is typically tolerated by civilisations which have reached their zenith, as was seen in the last centuries of the Roman empire and the close of the medieval era in Europe and is most commonly proscribed by the revolutionary movements which arise to replace them, such as Christianity and the movement of protestant reformation respectively. The same pattern is evident in the secular revolutions of the twentieth century - the Cuban and Chinese revolutions were initially hostile to homosexuality, and it was only when revolutionary ardour began to cool, some decades after the triumph of revolution, that the expression of homosexuality became tolerated, first in private, and finally (a process still underway) in public. In general, homosexuality is more tolerated when the spiritual relationship between males (the brotherhood of man and fatherhood of God) is superseded by economic relationships in which individual men meet on the basis of self-interest devoid of social obligation. As traditional male group activities such as sport, politics, soldiering, and trade unionism cease to be the voluntary pursuits of the mass of men and become the professional occupations of highly paid elites, the collective male consciousness is diminished and homosexual relations are more readily accepted.

The problem for the long term prospects of the gay liberation movement is that the very conditions which lead to the decline of male fraternity and increased tolerance of homosexuality swiftly provoke social reaction in the form of the movements, both secular and religious, which re-assert the principle of male fraternity and which are therefore implicitly antagonistic to homosexual relations. Those movements and social groupings in which men salute each other as “Brother” or “Bro” or even “Comrade” have virtually disappeared from the political classes of the western world, but they remain waiting in the wings. If or when they return to the main stage they will be less accepting of such novel institutions as gay marriage than the present political establishment.

Marriage law reform would not stop at gay marriage

The movement for gay marriage would not necessarily end with changes to the Marriage Act which permit two persons of the same gender to marry, just as it did not end with institution of civil union. It would then become entirely logical to allow incestuous marriage relationships based on "love and commitment". It would also be logical to then extend the definition of marriage to cover "polyamorous" relationships. As it stands, the "gay marriage" proposal would not accommodate the bisexual element of the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community, whose sexual identity, we are informed, can only attain full expression in two or more sexual relationships - one with a person of the same sex, and one with a person of the opposite sex..

Accommodating the Marriage Act to the situation of bisexuals, polygamists and practitioners of group sex would require the legitimisation of bigamous, polygamous, or, as they are now defined, "polyamorous" relationships. That in itself is not an insuperable impediment. Polygamous relationships are accepted in many jurisdictions. However they are not intrinsically consistent with the social purposes of marriage, and in societies such as New Zealand which suffer from pronounced social and economic inequality, legal polygamy would have serious social consequences. Legal polygamy would aggravate the problem of unequal access to marriage partners resulting from gross economic inequality, and that in turn would aggravate social tensions between men possessing wealth and a multiplicity of marriage partners, and those who possess neither.

In Muslim countries which permit polygamy social cohesion is only maintained because Islam itself promotes very intense and close male bonding which acts as the centripetal force in society, holding together that which would otherwise fly apart under the centrifugal forces of polygamy and social inequality. However, even Islam struggles to maintain social equilibrium in the face of institutions such as polygamy which contradict the fundamental Islamic premise of equality between men and the common allegiance of the male collective to a male God who stands alone at the head of the universe.

Gay marriage will have unanticipated consequences

If the Marriage Act is amended to include gay couples, there may be unanticipated consequences. Men in heterosexual relationships may be induced to see themselves more as sexual partners, comparable to gay marriage partners, and less as fathers and providers, which in turn may reduce the general sense of social obligation among males. Women may feel that their special status as mothers is devalued by a redefinition of marriage which denies any connection to the raising of children.  There may be a parallel with the way in which the word “gay” was taken over by the homosexual community to stand in place of the word “homosexual”.   Non-homosexuals ceased to use the word “gay” to describe themselves and some - particularly children and adolescents - began to apply it to anything which they held in low esteem..  Bold attempts at redefinition do not always have the anticipated outcomes, and the responses to the redefinition of marriage may prove to be every bit as complex as the responses to the redefinition of the word “gay”.

Civil marriage may become less attractive to those of a traditional or religious persuasion, and the gap between church and state may grow wider - not necessarily to the advantage of the state. Religious believers may be more inclined to separate themselves from a state which assumes a quasi-religious function yet in doing so contradicts the most fundamental positions of genuine religious traditions. Of course one right which the state will not allow its citizens is the right to separation or divorce from the state itself. Be that as it may, the relationship between the state and its religious citizens may become tense if the proposed amendments to the Marriage Act pass through the Parliament.

The sentinel question behind the debate over "gay marriage" is whether the state can fully replace "the church" as arbiter of moral values by fiddling with the Marriage Act or with any other social arrangement. In my view it cannot. The secular state in fact and by definition is devoid of any concept of God. It can manage diversity, recognise rights, levy taxes and impose laws, but it cannot bring people together at the most fundamental level of their common humanity. The state should leave the business of sanctification to the church, where it has always belonged..

The movement for gay marriage is not, despite appearances, a mass movement. As far as one can deduce from the civil union statistics the number of gays who wish to enter into gay marriage would be very small, even miniscule. The campaign has been driven by a small number of gay activists, the mass media and career politicians who are out of touch (or if one prefers "ahead of") the attitudes of the general public. The hidden item on the gay marriage agenda is the desire to cap off the legalisation of homosexuality with the secular sanctification of homosexual acts through the institution of gay marriage.

It would be more honest, and less divisive, for "the Queen and the representatives of the people of New Zealand in parliament assembled" to enact a new law which does precisely that. In doing so they would avoid the necessity to amend the Marriage Act so as to effectively abolish the existing institution of marriage.