By Andrew M. Potts
New Zealand may soon extend full adoption rights to same-sex couples, following the announcement that a Nationals MP will vote for a Green Party bill on the issue.
The Nationals’ MP for the seat of Auckland Central, Nikki Kaye, supports the issue out of conscience and told TV NZ that she will talk to party colleagues about supporting the bill.
Attorney-General Chris Finlayson, a Nationals MP, is openly gay and is likely to support the bill.
While New Zealand has had civil unions since 2004, same-sex couples may not adopt, although they may adopt and foster children as individuals.
The Green Party has been seeking to change New Zealand’s adoption laws since 2006. Green MP Kevin Hague is sponsoring a Private Member’s Bill to amend the Adoption Act. Hague will address GLBT group Rainbow Wellington on the prospects for reform this week.
In August, New Zealand’s main opposition party, Labour, came out in favour of adoption by same-sex couples and de factos following a speech in favour of both by Justice Paul Von Dadelszen, the principal judge of the New Zealand Family Court.
Labour favours scrapping the current law entirely and starting from scratch, but is yet to produce a bill of its own.
The Nationals under Prime Minister John Key do not have a majority in Parliament, so only a few Nationals MPs would need to cross the floor and vote with the Opposition and some minor party MPs to pass the bill.
Under New Zealand’s system of government, private members bills are selected at random from the ballot, so it is not yet known when the law will be presented to Parliament.
In other New Zealand news, the Obama Administration has selected openly gay lawyer David Huebner as US ambassador to NZ and Samoa.
Huebner was previously a board member and general counsel for America’s Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. If confirmed by senators, Huebner would become the third openly gay man to represent the US abroad.