John Key has been cornered in a radio interview about his vote on marriage equality and says that while his conscience is unlikely to change, he respects his right to as the bill proceeds.
Speaking to Marcus Lush on Radio Live this morning, Key says he believes the debate will pale in comparison to previous battles for GLBT equality.
Lush asked, “You’re not personally opposed to gay marriage and you’ve said that, so why not use your conscience vote to vote for it?”
Key replied, “I’m going to. So I’m going to for the first round and we’ll see how it all goes and go from there, but I think it’s quite healthy that New Zealand has the debate.
“I suspect there’ll be a fair bit of intensity but it won’t be what it was when you look at Homosexual Law Reform in the ’70s; I don’t think it will be that dramatic. I don’t know where public opinion’s at but probably mildly more in favour than opposed.”
Lush pressed Key on the issue of conscience, and asked, “If you vote for the first reading with a conscience vote, why would you then change your mind?”
Key replied, “You have to go through all the merits of the argument and see what people put up, but my view has been that if two gay people want to get married, I can’t see why it would undermine my marriage to Bronagh; I don’t see how that logic applies.
“I understand why some people are deeply opposed, and there will be people in our caucus who are deeply opposed, particularly the very religious ones in our caucus; I can understand that but I respect their views.”
Lush refused to let Key wriggle out of the issue of conscience, and once again asked, “I don’t expect your conscience is going to change come the third reading?”
Key replied, “No. As I say, let’s go have all the debates. I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it, I’ve given myself a little bit of room, but in principal I’m not opposed.”
Key went on to say that MPs can change their minds on issues of conscience, as he did with the prostitution reform bill. He said the previous laws had “inherent unfairness” and said he says he was unhappy that people could be prosecuted for selling sex but not for buying sex.
Listen to the full interview HERE. The marriage equality section starts at 0.58 in.