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How can referendum be valid?

Same-sex couple Ariel Owens (R) and his spouse Joseph Barham walk arm in arm after they were married at San Francisco City Hall (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Dear Sir,

A family member called me, asked about the referendum and informed me of the two questions that were asked.

My comments were: how can legislators pose a question in the form of a referendum that in the first instance contravenes the Human Rights Act?

For example, recently the Human Rights Act was amended to include non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. The second question on the referendum asks if you support civil unions for gay couples.

How can you create a law that permits and thereby recognises a civil union between same-sex couples but denies heterosexual couples the same right?

How could a referendum with such a question be valid and not one leading to a situation that is ultra vires?