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Q+A March 10: Susan Wood interviews Louisa Wall, Colin Craig

Press Release – TVNZ

Colin Craig, youve just heard these young ladies talk. I mean, theyre high-functioning individuals. Ones training to be a doctor and theyre sitting there holding hands. Why shouldnt they be allowed to marry?Q+A March 10 – Susan Wood interviews Louisa Wall and Colin Craig

Sunday March 10, 2012


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Q + A – March 10, 2013


Interviewed by SUSAN WOOD

SUSAN Colin Craig, Louisa Wall, good morning to you both. Colin Craig, you’ve just heard these young ladies talk. I mean, they’re high-functioning individuals. One’s training to be a doctor – and they’re sitting there holding hands. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to marry?

COLIN CRAIG – Conservative Party Leader
Well, I think the key point, and it was your first question, is, look, we’ve done civil unions in this country, and we actually copied the Marriage Act. The only thing that’s different is the word “marriage” was changed to “civil union”. And that enables same-sex and other couples who didn’t want to go through the traditional marriage process to recognise fully their relationship. We changed 160 other pieces of legislation to make sure that civil unions wasn’t second-class, and I think it’s really concerning, given all the effort—

SUSAN                         But it is, because it sets this— Marilyn Waring actually made a very interesting submission about civil union, because what it does – it makes a different class of people. So you set gay as a different class and give them civil union.

COLIN                           No, no—

SUSAN                         It makes them different class.

COLIN                           Civil— Different, of course, because we recognise there is a difference here. I don’t think anybody intelligently can say, well, look, the dynamics between a man and a woman are the same as the dynamics between a same-sex couple, because there is gender difference. Now, we recognise that by having two parallel and equally legally entitled options for recognising union – that’s marriage and civil union.

But that’s only for a heterosexual couple, actually, Colin, and what we’re wanting to do is provide that choice for all New Zealand citizens. And actually what we have to remember in New Zealand is only the state can issue a licence. There are differences in terms of how marriage is celebrated, so we have religious celebrations and cultural celebrations. So all we’re doing is opening up this wonderful institution, which is about family, love and commitment, which these two beautiful young women show. That’s what we want for everybody.

COLIN                           And civil union can be about that too—

LOUISA                        But it is about that—

COLIN                           …without taking anything away from marriage.

LOUISA                        It’s about that for both homosexual and heterosexual couples. We’re not taking anything away from marriage. Actually, what we’re saying is that—

COLIN                           No, you are.

LOUISA                        …this is an esteemed institution. It’s something that every citizen of the country—

COLIN                           But you are changing it.

LOUISA                        …wants. No, we’re not.

COLIN                           This esteemed institution—

SUSAN                         No, they’re giving it to everybody. They’re trying to everybody, Colin.

COLIN                           In giving it to everybody, you’re changing the definition. You’re changing what marriage is. Words like “husband”, “wife”, “bride”, “bridegroom”—

LOUISA                        All stay. They will stay. There will be 14 pieces of legislation that we’ll have to change—

COLIN                           Right, 14 pieces of legislation changed.

LOUISA                        …because they won’t be applicable.

SUSAN                         Louisa, to a lot of people, marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman, and they are genuine and sincere beliefs.

LOUISA                        Absolutely, and they can remain for people who believe that. So religious institutions—

SUSAN                         Well, the changes–

COLIN                           No, no, you’re forcing—

SUSAN                         Hang on, Colin. It changes it, though.

LOUISA                        No, it doesn’t change it. Not for them. They can define it for themselves, and section 29 is very clear that a celebrant is authorised but not obliged, and we’ve now made it really explicit that if you’re an organisational celebrant, if you’re a minister of religion, you explicitly now can say no and be very clear about why you’re doing that.

COLIN                           Why won’t you protect the right of all celebrants?

LOUISA                        It is actually a subsection of section 29 that celebrations are already protected—

SUSAN                         Alright, we’ll—

COLIN                           No, no, no, no.

SUSAN                         Alright, let’s get into that quite clearly. Now, what you are saying here – because Louisa has said all along, and you’ve stood up in parliament and said this – that nobody will be forced to marry a gay couple.

COLIN                           That’s the promise.

SUSAN                         Now, you’ve got an issue around this, Colin.

COLIN                           Absolutely. Look, the Crown Law report, and I’ve got it here – you’ve read this. It says if you want to protect that, make it explicitly so. At the moment, the proposed amendment only protects 38% of celebrants— uh, 32%. The other 68, you’re hanging out to dry. Why won’t you follow the Crown Law advice—?

LOUISA                        We have followed the Crown Law advice, and the Ministry of Justice advice, because this amendment, which was proposed by the select committee, is one that I recommend. And so already we have section 29—

COLIN                           But you’re not keeping your promise.

LOUISA                        …which says “authorises but not obliged”. The Human Rights Commission were very clear that we didn’t need to enhance that section.

SUSAN                         But let’s—

COLIN                           Crown Law says you should explicitly give and exception, and you’ve not done that.

LOUISA                        No, that is in the legislation, so you’re being really disingenuous, Colin.

SUSAN                         Alright, Louisa, can you then guarantee, because I have read all these legal reports, and we know what reports from lawyers are like – you get varying opinions. It does seem, from the evidence that Colin Craig has got, that there are a number, and it’s a significant number of independent celebrants, who could be forced to marry a gay couple if they did not wish to.

LOUISA                        No, because what we’ve done under section 29 is created a subsection, which is section 2 – so you’ll have section 29: “authorised, not obliged”—

SUSAN                         But what happens to those two-thirds of celebrants who are not from a church or—

LOUISA                        They already have the right to say no.

SUSAN                         But aren’t they regarded like a registrar—

LOUISA                        No.

SUSAN                         …who actually to do—

LOUISA                        No, they’re not.

SUSAN                         You know, you go a registry office, you have to—

LOUISA                        Registrars—

COLIN                           So are you saying Crown Law are wrong?

LOUISA                        Registrars are employees of the state.

COLIN                           Are you saying that Crown—?

LOUISA                        So that’s an employment issue.

COLIN                           Are you saying that Crown Law are wrong?

LOUISA                        No, are you saying that the Ministry of Justice is wrong and that the select committee is wrong and that—?

SUSAN                         Well, let’s just be really clear. Will two-thirds of celebrants who are not involved with a church or organisation, if these lovely ladies here went along and said, “We want you to marry us,” and they didn’t want to, would they be forced to?

LOUISA                        No, they wouldn’t.

COLIN                           Are you prepared to guarantee that right in legislation?

LOUISA                        It’s guaranteed already in section 29 of the Marriage Act.

COLIN                           Crown Law says—

SUSAN                         OK—

LOUISA It’s already guaranteed in section 29 of the Marriage Act.

COLIN                           Crown Law say it needs to be an explicit exemption.

LOUISA                        The select committee was very clear, and I agree, that no celebrant ever should be forced. Why would you want a celebrant—?

COLIN                           Why not put that in law?

LOUISA                        Why would you want a celebrant—

COLIN                           Why not put that in law?

LOUISA                        …at a beautiful celebration—

COLIN                           Why not put that in law?

LOUISA                        …actually not wanting to be there.

COLIN                           Why not—?

LOUISA                        It doesn’t make any sense.

COLIN                           Why not put that in law?

LOUISA                        It is in law.

SUSAN                         Alright, there’s one more thing around that I want to move on to. When we’re talking about buildings – we’re talking about synagogues, churches, mosques, whatever. Not necessarily the religious part of it – where they hold their services – but maybe their hall. Will people be able to use those against the religious wishes of those organisations for gay marriage?

LOUISA                        There is a distinction between the sacramental place of a church, absolutely, which the minister, by agreeing to solemnise a marriage, allows a couple to have access to. Any property that is classified as a good or service is a good or service. So you can’t discriminate under New Zealand law—

SUSAN                         So, for example—

COLIN                           So there will be discrimination on that basis. You will force church buildings to be used—

LOUISA                        No, it’s current law. We’re not— I’m not changing that law. If a church currently hires out their hall for money, they can’t discriminate against any group who chooses to hire out that hall.

COLIN                           No, no, actually, I believe they currently can.

LOUISA                        No, they can’t. They can’t.

SUSAN                         Right, adoption. Adoption. Of course, your bill becomes law, then it is legal for gay couples to adopt.

COLIN                           Yep.

LOUISA                        Actually, it’s already legal for gay couples to adopt, except only one of them can become the parent and the other becomes and additional guardian.

COLIN                           Where there’s a family or blood relationship, yes, that’s true. But we’re talking about children with no home who are wards of the state getting placed in a brand new family.

LOUISA                        So you want to change the institution of marriage, actually, because what you’re saying is that married couples shouldn’t be able to jointly adopt.

COLIN                           No.

LOUISA                        If they’re same-sex.

COLIN                           No, I’m—

LOUISA                        So you want to change the institution of marriage.

COLIN                           No, listen, what I’m saying is this: where the state has a child without any family, any blood relatives who will take responsibility for them, we’ve got to place them in a home. We should— Currently the law says they’ve got to go into a home with a mum and a dad. That’s right, according to me. I don’t think we should be changing it. This is not to say other people can’t be loving, but the reality is let’s stick to what we know works.

SUSAN                         Do you think a mum and dad’s a real family?

COLIN                           I think, look, if we look at the— Uh, Sydney University spent nearly, what—

SUSAN                         No, it’s a simple question. Is a mum and dad a real family to you? Is that what a real family is?

COLIN When we’re looking for an ideal family in adoption, a mum and dad who meet all the other criteria is the ideal.

LOUISA                        In the latest research from the UK, from the University of Cambridge, said that that’s not right, that the most important thing is for children to be brought up in loving families, and it’s about how they function. It’s got nothing to do with the gender of the parents.

COLIN                           Well, that’s not—

LOUISA                        So that’s the latest research.

COLIN                           That’s not the evidence out of Sydney, which is last year.

LOUISA                        Well, this is the evidence out of the University of Cambridge that came out two days ago.

SUSAN                         Let Colin get a word in.

COLIN                           Look, I think the Australian research, over $15 million spent, clearly said, look, this is the best scenario – a married mum and dad who are loving, that’s ideal. With adoption, and there aren’t many of these, we are looking for an ideal scenario. We have a lot a rules. We say that 24-year-olds can’t adopt, even though they may love each other and be great parents. Why? Because we’re looking for the absolutely best outcome. It’s about the best for a child, and I think it is an experiment if we start putting those—

SUSAN                         A social experiment, you think.

COLIN                           It is. Of course it is.

LOUISA                        Children are already being brought up in families with same-sex couples.

COLIN                           We’re not talking about those children. We’re talking about—

LOUISA                        Why? Why aren’t we talking about those children?

COLIN                           Because your bill is only changing the scenario for children without a home.

SUSAN                         Alright, Louisa, got the numbers to get it through this week?

LOUISA                        I believe that, yeah, there has been strong public support for the bill. Obviously—

SUSAN                         But I’m talking about in the House this week, which is where the rubber hits the road.

LOUISA                        I’m hopeful, but it’s a conscience vote. It’s up to every single member of Parliament.

COLIN                           Public—

LOUISA                        And obviously we do have leadership across the House that is supporting my bill.

COLIN                           Public support is declining.

LOUISA                        From the Prime Minister to the leaders of both the ACT Party, United Future, Mana, Maori Party and obviously there’s a strong group within Labour and the Greens, so I’m very hopeful.

SUSAN                         What are you going to do? I mean, it goes through. Louisa’s hopeful the numbers are there. Are you going to keep fighting against this, Colin?

COLIN                           Look, of course. Public support is moving. It’s moving in the direction of traditional marriage, not because people want to deny anybody anything, but we recognise we already made that provision. This is a rushed process. New Zealanders were denied the right to speak.

LOUISA                        This is a standard process—

COLIN                           That’s wrong.

LOUISA                        And actually—

COLIN                           No, it’s not a standard process.

LOUISA                        …Colin, you know that. If you ask people do they agree to the state issuing marriage licences to consenting adults who want to marry, you get a very different response—

SUSAN                         Quickly.

COLIN                           You want a referendum on state assets; have one on marriage.

LOUISA                        Well, yes, have you gone out and got 307,000 people to—?

COLIN So you don’t want people to—?

LOUISA                        No, no, what have you done about it?

SUSAN                         I think both of you can argue in the green room for the rest of the day. Colin Craig, Louisa Wall.


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