Q+A: Louisa Wall and Colin Craig on Gay Marriage
Sunday June 10, 2012
Shane Taurima Interviews Louisa Wall and Colin Craig about Gay Marriage
Q + A – June 10, 2012
SHANE TAURIMA interview LOUISA WALL
and COLIN CRAIG about gay marriage
SHANE Thank you both for joining us this morning. Colin Craig, more than two-thirds of Kiwis support it. Why don’t you?
COLIN CRAIG – Conservative Party leader
Well, look, a poll says that, and if we look at the States, most of the polling over there says, you know, 60% to 70%. But 32 out of 32 states when it when to a referenda—
SHANE Let’s talk about New Zealand.
MR CRAIG ...decided it was—
SHANE The New Zealand poll, though – nearly two-thirds support it. Why don’t you?
MR CRAIG Why don’t I is I think that marriage is not purely something that belongs to the state, and I think what we’re talking about here is an intersection of many different interests. So, marriage is cultural, it’s traditional, it’s an institution in our society—
SHANE So tell us why you don’t support it.
MR CRAIG Why I don’t support a change to that is that I think that marriage is a word that’s historically, traditionally defined, and I think that all New Zealanders have an interest in it. Now, if all New Zealanders did decide, and I would support a referenda on this, if all New Zealanders decided, “Hey, yeah, look, we’re ready for a change,” fair enough, but I don’t think that’s where New Zealanders are at.
SHANE So you’d back a referendum?
MR CRAIG Absolutely, I would, yeah.
SHANE Louisa Wall, why do you want it?
LOUISA WALL – Labour MP
Because our community want it. So, the rainbow community have been asking for this for a long time, so as chair of Rainbow Labour and our caucus, it’s been my prerogative, as the chair of that group, to put a private members bill forward in response to our community. So we know 400 of our community have civil unions every year, but about 80 of those people – so 20%, roughly – are heterosexual couples. So in the civil union space, we have equality, and in the marriage space, we’re wanting equality.
SHANE Do you have all your caucus’ support?
MS WALL I do. I got it through caucus, so it’s been submitted, it’s in the ballot. It is a conscience vote.
SHANE So why not make it a party vote? If it’s that important, why not put it up as part of Labour Party policy?
MS WALL It was in our policy. It was in our manifesto. We went to the election espousing the issue of human rights and equality, in terms of marriage equality and adoption equality, so I’m merely following through on our Labour Party policy. But it is a conscience vote, just as alcohol is in our caucus.
SHANE Colin Craig, do you support one law for all?
MR CRAIG I support equal rights and privileges for all New Zealanders.
SHANE One law for all, though?
MR CRAIG Yeah, I don’t like that phrase, but equal rights and privileges for New Zealanders.
SHANE So why do you support one law for heterosexuals and one law for homosexuals?
MR CRAIG Well, look, I agree with civil unions. Obviously, I’m on record for that. Following civil unions, we changed 160 pieces of legislation over that in this country to make sure that we had equality. What we’re talking about here is who has the right to use and define the word “marriage”, and I believe there's a status quo. We’ve got generation after generation, marriage has been between and a woman, and that is what I believe the New Zealanders want. They’ve got cultural investment in this, historical investment in this, religious investment in this.
SHANE But why one law for homosexuals and one law for heterosexuals?
MR CRAIG The only difference here is the word “marriage”. I mean, we’re not talking about an issue of equality across other things. We’ve addressed that in this country, and rightly so.
SHANE So if it’s only to do with a word, why are you against it?
MR CRAIG Because this word is an important word. The people are invested in it, and we can see that. This is a debate that rages not just here but around the world, particularly the Western world. That’s where it’s being debated. So the word’s important, and it has great meaning and significance to many New Zealanders, and I think the issue here is not about rights, it’s about respect. It’s respecting what that word already means.
SHANE Well, do you respect – as an example, do you respect the same-sex community who want this option?
MR CRAIG Well, look, it’s all very well for a small section of the community, and let’s remember—
SHANE Do you have respect for them, though, Colin Craig?
MR CRAIG Let’s remember— I do, and let’s remember that this is not where all homosexuals are at. There are a number of homosexuals who take a different view. They talk to me, and they’re saying, “No, look, we are happy with where we’ve got to in this country. We do not want to challenge what marriage means—“
MS WALL Shane, can I just—?
MR CRAIG “We respect it already has a meaning for others.”
MS WALL Can I just contribute there? I mean, the reality is that marriage in New Zealand is a civil institution The religious institution or the religious right that our churches have won’t be changed by defining marriage as I proposed.
SHANE What will change?
MS WALL Is the definition of marriage, which is about two people, regardless of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, having the choice. And so Colin’s point that some sectors of the rainbow community are happy with civil unions, and actually I was. My partner and I had a civil union. But there are others, and I guess the most prominent person at the moment is Alison Mau. She wants to marry.
SHANE Why are you so hung up on marriage, on the term “marriage”, on the word?
MS WALL Marriage is a social institution. It conveys resiliency—
SHANE Is it a religious thing?
MS WALL That’s part of it. It’s a civil and social institution in our society.
SHANE But you can have, as an example, a civil union ceremony at a church.
MS WALL Heterosexual and homosexual couples can have that. Marriage is a right of everybody. I believe it’s a human right, and my challenge to Colin is that in his philosophy or with his party principles, he espouses to believe in equality, he espouses to believe in individual freedom. And actually that’s what this is about – an individual’s right and freedom to marry.
SHANE What about gay adoption, Colin Craig? Do you support that?
MR CRAIG Well, look, it’s a different debate. We have a lot of rules and restrictions about—
SHANE But do you support it?
MR CRAIG ...adoption in New Zealand, and I support the existing law, which has a lot of restrictions.
SHANE So you don’t support it?
MR CRAIG No, I support the existing law, and the current law does rule out gay adoption.
SHANE Why? Tell us why? Why shouldn’t a same-sex couple be able to adopt?
MR CRAIG Well, I’ll tell you why we have the existing law at the moment—
SHANE No, tell us why you don’t want the change.
MR CRAIG OK, I support the existing law. The existing law says what matters here, above all other things and solely is the rights of a child. Now, I actually think – and it’s my opinion – I actually think there are difference between a man and a woman. I actually think that when we get to choose the environment in which a child grows up, to have both a male and female role model, a mum and a dad is the ideal, and therefore I do support that restriction.
SHANE We don’t have that now, do we, though, Louisa Wall?
MS WALL No, it may be the ideal, but I think more ideal for our children is that they grow up in a loving environment. And what our rainbow community are asking for is the same rights to legalise and formalise their relationship, and we all know that as a basic unit in society, two people who bond themselves for life provide a stable environment for children to grow up in. So as a consequence of my bill, under section 3 of the Adoption Act, because same-sex couples will be defined as spouses, they will be able to jointly adopt. And I think in society, that’s what we want. We have a number of children growing up in single-family households, and actually anything that adds value in terms of those social institutions for our children—
SHANE Do different gender role models matter, though?
MS WALL But we’re assuming that same-sex couples actually don’t have whanaunga or the wider social groups to ensure that our children do have role models of both sexes. I mean, at the end of the day, if this is about children, we want children to grow up in loving families.
SHANE Isn’t that the point, though, Colin Craig? Isn’t it about children being able to be brought up and cared for in a loving, tender, nurtured environment?
MR CRAIG Love is important. It’s not everything. Role modelling is very important – the single biggest influence on children is parents. I actually think a mum and a dad – when we get to choose, and with adoption we do, and there aren’t many of them, and there's a huge number of great parents out there waiting to adopt already. It’s not like we’re short of takers here. I don’t believe there's any impetus or any need to change the existing law. We’re doing the right thing by children. We don’t have a lot of adoptions that are outside of family – what we call stranger adoptions – but those we do are working well. I think in 25 years, there's been one that failed. We’re doing it right. There's no need to change here.
SHANE Very quickly, because I have to wrap it up, but how confident are you that it’s going to get through – gay marriage, gay adoption?
MS WALL It will get through the first reading, I’m absolutely confident. I think that there is public opinion that says that they support same-sex marriage.
SHANE And there we will have to leave it. Thank you both for joining us.