Diversity, inclusion and marriage equity

by Don Christie

Since Catalyst developed its diversity policy earlier this year there were a number of things that struck me. The first was that it had taken us 20 years to describe the behaviours we promote and expect within the company. Second not many New Zealand, Australian or UK companies have public diversity policies, feel free to reuse and repurpose ours, in English or Te Reo Māori :-) and thirdly we have simply applied the UN's “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” to the workplace. Hindsight can be pretty convenient at times.

One right that is still being debated across the globe is the right for consenting adults to marry, regardless of gender. In New Zealand the Marriage Equity bill was only passed four years ago after a period of effective limbo for gay couples. Australia is going through a similarly convoluted approach to the topic today, despite widespread and majority public support for the idea.

Why should we care? Well, there is diversity of opinion on the topic within Catalyst. Those who hold the view that marriage should be between people of opposite sexes do so for sincere and deeply felt reasons and their positions are important. Being able to hold and express diverse beliefs is also a human right. But for many of our staff, clients and communities with which we collaborate marriage equity is equally important.

“Be ye not afraid”. That was the biblical quote Maurice Williamson, the New Zealand National (conservative) minister, used to advise people who were concerned about the havoc "gay marriage" would supposedly create within society. Four years later we in NZ can attest that our social structures have not been overturned because lovers that couldn't marry now can. The sun still rises and our parliamentarians made a part of our society very happy. That was good.

To quote more extensively from Williamson:

“Let me repeat to them now: All we are doing with this bill is allowing two people who love each other to have that love recognized by way of marriage.

That is all we are doing. We are not declaring nuclear war on a foreign state. We are not bringing a virus in that could wipe out our agricultural sector forever. We are allowing two people who love each other to have that recognized, and I can't see what's wrong with that for love nor money.” Full video over on Youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRQXQxadyps

Hopefully Australia will see its way to following his advice.