New Zealand’s longest-serving Member of Parliament Nick Smith,  has apologised for voting against same-sex marriages in his valedictory address to the house after submitting his resignation.

Much of the details about his resignation remain undisclosed. However, he expressed his regret about voting against gay marriages after his son Logan came out a few years ago.

Smith was first elected to the NZ Parliament in 1990, and has previously served in the cabinet including as Environment minister, Education minister and Housing minister. NZ had legalised civil unions for same-sex couples in 2005.

In April 2012, Labour Party MP Louisa Wall had introduced a private member’s Bill – Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, to allow same-sex couples to marry. The Bill passed the Parliament on April 17, 2013, 77-44 and received royal assent on April 19, 2013.

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Smith, who belongs to the National Party, was among those 44 MPs who voted against the Bill. He had also voted in 2004 against the Bill granting civil union rights to same sex couples and had also voted in favour of another Bill that would define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

‘My Song Told Me He Was Gay’

“There is an issue I got wrong. In 2013 I voted against gay marriage. The error is all the more personal with my 20-year-old son being gay. I want to put on record today my apology to New Zealand’s LGBT+ community,” said Smith.

He thanked Parliamentarians who had supported the same-sex marriage law. “I pay tribute to Louisa Wall, Fran Wilde and Amy Adams for their leadership that has improved the lives of my son and thousands of other New Zealanders. I also acknowledge Jenny Shipley’s courage as the first prime minister to attend a gay pride parade in 1999.”

Smith in an interview with the media said that his son had told him he was gay about three years ago and had made a commitment to him that he would record his apology before he left Parliament. 

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Pointing to his conservative background, he said that his hope was the valedictory speech would “help New Zealanders squeeze out that last bit of prejudice that remains.”

“By going public, by giving an apology, by standing bravely beside my son Logan, my hope is that we can squeeze out those last remnants of prejudice that the gay community still face,” he said.

“I’ve been National since I was a teenager. I’ll be National until I’m pushing up daisies. But I intend to become a private citizen tomorrow,” he said.

Logan, told media that he was proud of his father for acknowledging that “he got it wrong in the past”.

Smith had announced his sudden resignation on May 31, 2021.  A lot of speculations surrounded his resignation, including the fact that Smith might have had been forced to resign by National Party leader Judith Collins.

Last Wednesday, it was reported that it was Collins who had warned Smith about the possible publication of a story which revealed details of an inquiry into an altercation Smith had had with a staffer. However, the story was never published, leading to conjectures that Collins blackmailed Smith into resignation. Judith Collins denied these claims.

 

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