As you know, I’ve been a proponent of Gay Marriage and as far as I’m concerned gay people are people. They can be good or bad, nice or nasty, or whatever.
But when you select a political leader, the fact Grant sleeps in the same bed as Alf and they do what people that love each other do does become an issue when it affects the support base of your party.
Labour Party leadership hopeful Grant Robertson is relaxed about David Cunliffe supporters raising the issue of him being gay. “I’ll be judged, I’m sure, on my ability to reflect Labour values,” he has said. But just how receptive would the New Zealand public be to the idea of a gay prime minister?
Perhaps a more important, initial consideration would be the effect on Labour’s base. The fears are that an openly gay parliamentary leader might fail to connect with Maoridom and with socially conservative, church-going Pasifika voters, and add to the disconnect the party is already experiencing with provincial working- class voters.
The West Coast, one of the few remaining Labour provincial redoubts, is a good example of this.
In 2011 the local MP, Damien O’Connor, described the list MP selection process as being run by “self- serving unionists and a gaggle of gays”.
In many of these demographics, however, it’s hard to get a proper fix.
The breakdown of a 2012 Colmar Brunton poll on same-sex marriage showed, somewhat predictably, that 70 per cent of people aged under 55 were in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry, while those who identify with a religion were split evenly on the issue. Interestingly though, rural and small- town respondents were in favour by 59 per cent to 33 per cent – just slightly less than the overall average of 63 per cent to 31 per cent.
Perhaps the best example of this unpredictable provincial dynamic is Georgina Beyer, who, at the 1999 general election, won the typically Right-leaning electorate of Wairarapa, and became the world’s first transsexual MP.
New Zealand as a whole is remarkably tolerant of people’s life’s choices as long as they’re good bastards. And when gay people are idiots, they frequently sheet it home to homophobia, it’s not the same thing. Read more »