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Q+A: The panel on the Louisa Wall and Colin Craig interview

Published: 4:29PM Sunday March 10, 2013 Source: Q+A


Raymond Miller, Josie Pagani and Ian Wishart. Well, that was fairly fiery, wasn't it? Your take on that, Raymond?

DR RAYMOND MILLER - Political Scientist

RAYMOND Well, it just shows how polarising an issue it really is. You know, when polls have been done, they show that only a very small percentage of voters don't believe one way or the other - who are non-committed. Most people have opinions. Quite often they come from instinct - people are instinctively in support or instinctively opposed. Not necessarily any sort of rational argument, but-

SUSAN  Yeah, because passionate- When you talk about the select committee, they talked about the passion and the commitment and sincere beliefs, Josie, I think. And there is a sizeable chunk of New Zealand that sincerely believes that marriage is between a man and a woman.

JOSIE PAGANI - Former Labour Party Candidate

There is, but I think the general consensus now is that people are- it's going to happen. People are accepting it. Even the taxi driver I got a lift in with today said he's driving two women to their civil union. They're both dressed in meringue dresses.

SUSAN  There's a difference, though. That's a civil union, not a marriage.

JOSIE That's right, and I said to him, "What do you feel about gay marriage?" And he said, "Oh, it's going to happen. I've got no problem with it." And I think that's the problem that Colin Craig's got. And if you think about it, it's very hard to find an MP who would come in here and argue anti-gay marriage now. There's a real consensus. There's a global trend. Even Dick Cheney in America, for goodness sake, is pro-gay marriage. And the reason he's pro-gay marriage is he's saying, "Because I'm conservative, I'm pro-gay marriage." And it's the idea that you're pushing people towards the responsible, conservative institution of marriage, and it's a freedom - freedom for everybody. Choice. And that's where Colin Craig falls down, because you can say- You are making second-class citizens if you're saying one group in society can't marry.

SUSAN  What do you think, Ian? I mean, they've got civil union. What about gay marriage?

IAN I don't want to be the grumpy old curmudgeon at the wedding, but& (laughs) I'm going to be. I don't think that the debate that we're having in the media is honest in terms of the research. There are big differences in the sociological studies between the lesbian community and the male gay community in terms of behaviour. AIDS Foundation did a survey just a couple of years ago of New Zealand gay men. They found 77% can't stay monogamous for more than six months.

JOSIE Oh, come on. That's silly.

IAN WISHART - Publisher

Well, that's their survey. That's their own survey.

JOSIE Yeah, but what you're saying- You're talking about a particular group in society who might go out and have multiple partners.

IAN No, I'm talking about a survey-

JOSIE This is about gay marriage - people who want to enter into the institution of marriage. They're making a commitment.

IAN Yeah, but, Josie, you've got to look at the research. If the AIDS Foundation's own studies are showing that the majority and extremely promiscuous - some with a hundred partners a year-

JOSIE They probably don't want to get married.

IAN That 57% are drug users regularly. Then you work in this - as Susan pointed out in the interview with, uh&

SUSAN  How big a study was that? How comprehensive was that study?

IAN Over a thousand. It's a regular study that they do.

JOSIE But also you can find promiscuous people in the heterosexual community.

IAN But we're not getting past the debating point. What I'm saying is these are- If adoption comes in and says, OK, a gay male couple can just randomly adopt kids, you're putting them into a statistical lifestyle-

JOSIE Not randomly.

IAN &that is a) highly promiscuous, b) up to a hundred partners a year-

JOSIE No, sorry, that is completely outrageous.

IAN I'm sorry, that's what the research says.

JOSIE You're saying that these promiscuous people that have been researched are the ones that want to get married. I mean, that's like find a heterosexual bunch of people-

IAN If you open the gates to it-

JOSIE &who are out having orgies every weekend and saying that-

IAN &anybody can get married.

JOSIE But those people aren't the ones that necessarily want to get married.

IAN How do we cope and protect those people who, with the best of intentions, for example, will get married?

SUSAN  Alright, Raymond. Let's just bring Raymond in here. It will be interesting to see who votes for what this week, won't it. I mean, we've seen the Prime Minister. He voted against civil union. Of course he says he now is in favour of this. That's what's going to play out this week.

RAYMOND It will. It's really interesting that 30 National MPs voted in favour of it in its introduction. And some nine of those people argued that they were basically allowing it to be debated, so they kept-

SUSAN  Which is often the case.

RAYMOND Which is often the case. But what is the interesting thing - they're not going to get many changes out of Labour, certainly not out of the Greens. So it is out of National where changes will take place. But I went back to the civil union bill in 2004, and there were 66 votes in favour at the time of introduction, and when they had all the debate and it had gone through select committee and so on, it was 65. A notable exception was Don Brash, who switched from being in favour to being opposed. So my guess is that most people have made up their minds. It won't be an 80-40 split, I don't think. But it won't be far off. I think that there will be a clear majority.

IAN  I think it's very clear that I think the majority of the country is going to say gay marriage is going to happen, and I think Parliament is going to say that - let's get that on the record. What I've tried to say as a journalist is, OK, let's inject some facts into the debate. And on the Investigate Magazine website, we put out an article. Back in '87, some gay PR strategists in the States said, "We're having a real bad time with AIDS. It's giving our community a really bad look. We want to push for gay rights. We want to change the way America thinks about gay people."

JOSIE I'm sorry, I don't know what AIDS has got to do with gay marriage.

IAN Listen to me and you'll find out. The PR strategy was to say, "We want to push for gay rights and reclaim the territory we lost to AIDS." And they said, "We want to push through the media images of gay people as family-orientated, monogamous"-

SUSAN So you're essentially saying it's a cynical PR strategy.

JOSIE I tell you what, though-

IAN It's a cynical PR strategy.

SUSAN Come on, Josie.

IAN It's on the website.

JOSIE I think the only people now who are against gay marriage, really, are people on the fringe, in the shadows of society, really.

SUSAN  Oh, you can't describe people with firmly held religious beliefs as that.

JOSIE No, that's right. And I say that as a Catholic, and I respect the Catholic Church's position on it, although I think they've lost a lot of moral authority in recent years to have an opinion on it, to be honest. But I'm saying you'll be hard-pressed to find somebody who will stand up against gay marriage, unless they're, you know, full of conspiracy theories or whatever. Or gay men with commitment issues perhaps don't want gay marriage.

RAYMOND  There is an impetus towards change, and in Britain last month, it was carried within the Westminster Parliament.

SUSAN 13 countries now, I think. Even parts of America.

RAYMOND That's right, and the majority in favour was 225 votes, so it was a significant majority, even though the Conservative Party was split on the issue. So I think- And of course we know Obama and others are advocates of it. So this is the way in which it's going to go.

SUSAN  And that was one of the interesting things about it, actually. Obama spoke, said, "Yes, I'm in favour of it." The next day, our prime minister, the Australian prime minister and I'm sure other prime ministers around the world are being asked about it, and it's interesting to watch these international movements-

IAN At the risk of being described as a conspiracy theorist-

JOSIE No, we know you are! Good Lord. Outrageous!

IAN On the website document - it's the '87 one - it goes back and says, "We've got to get politicians and media in all of these countries to push the gay rights issue."

JOSIE That is a conspiracy theory.

IAN No, that's written by the PR team that manhandled it. But come back to the point-

SUSAN But back to my point-

IAN Gay marriage is going to come through. It's happening worldwide. What we've got to come up with, however, is a solution to the situation I've raised, which is if you open marriage generally to anybody, you do actually have to look the welfare of kids.

JOSIE But it is open to anybody, except if you're gay.

IAN Now, if you come into this point, there has to be some sort of protection mechanism for kids for adoption, because there is a sector of that community that is extremely un-lifestyle oriented for kids.

SUSAN  Well, the only change in adoption is at the moment that if Josie and I decided to marry each other, one of us would have to adopt the kids and the other one wouldn't have the rights.

JOSIE  And the adoption bill-

IAN I'll say this for the record-

JOSIE No, I just want to say on the-

IAN &the lesbian research says lesbians are highly stable.

JOSIE On the adoption bill-

SUSAN  Alright, we'll stop it there.

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