|New Zealanders shouldn't be told how to think, but it's “surely reasonable” for the state to tell private citizens which relationships are “preferred”. Huh? National's 'PC eradicator' Wayne Mapp explains to GayNZ.com's Chris Banks his support for the Marriage (Gender Clarification) Bill which United Future MP Gordon Copeland - 'the gatekeeper of God's standards' - has put before Parliament. GayNZ.com: The Marriage (Gender Clarification) Bill – do you know yet how National will be voting? Mapp: Prior to the election we said we were supporting it. GayNZ.com: Is that support likely to continue? Mapp: It's likely to be discussed again, but on the face of it there'd be no logical reason why we wouldn't support it, but it will be discussed again. One of the concerns some of my colleagues did have is that in a sense it was a little bit redundant because marriage is actually defined between a man and a woman in any event. So they wondered whether it was really, how could I put it, feelgood legislation rather than actually, rather than...but people, included myself, wanted to support it because of the symbolic value of it. It reinforced the point. GayNZ.com: So you yourself would support this? Mapp: Yes indeed, I spoke in the caucus at the time when it came up earlier this year in support of it. GayNZ.com: The last time we spoke, you said New Zealand had moved on and serious discrimination against same-sex couples shouldn't be tolerated in this day and age. You also voted in favour of the Relationships Act, which created a level legal playing field for all couples... Mapp: I voted in favour of a particular clause in the Relationships Act, which is the one you've just mentioned. National voted against the Relationships Act as a general point because we felt it was too restrictive, too onerous on people. It denied people choice, essentially, to organise their affairs the way they wanted to. But a group of us voted for a particular clause to indicate symbolically that we recognised there was a particular issue that we wanted to express a view on. GayNZ.com: This bill goes much further than gender clarification. It actually contains a clause that amends the Bill of Rights Act to allow discrimination against same sex and de facto couples. How is that helpful? Mapp: I think its more to say that it allows civic preferences to married couples, that would be a more accurate way of putting that. GayNZ.com: How is that fair, in terms of equal treatment for people? Mapp: Well, it simply recognises that marriage is the foundation relationship in our society. GayNZ.com: Which can only be entered into by certain citizens? Mapp: Correct. That is true, yes. GayNZ.com: United Future's Gordon Copeland, the sponsor of this bill, says that gays fall short of God's standards, and that this bill is necessary because he believes people were “unnerved” by same-sex couples being allowed to have civil ceremonies. Is putting through legislation based on sentiments like these a form of political correctness? Mapp: No, legislation does reflect our society. It is surely reasonable that we're able to reinforce marriage. That doesn't actually discriminate against anyone else though. GayNZ.com: But if you can't get married it does, though. Mapp: Well I suppose everyone can get married, it's whether they choose to get married. GayNZ.com: But gays and lesbians can't get married. Or are you saying they should marry a person of the opposite gender? Mapp: (laughs) Many of them have, haven't they? Many a gay person has been married with children, and then they choose... then they end up not being married. You know people in that situation I'm sure. GayNZ.com: So it's not political correctness. Is it religious correctness? Mapp: No. It recognises... let me put it this way: in society, there are a whole range of relationships. No-one's doubting that. And by and large, people are free to live their lives as they will within, provided they're not committing an illegality. But that doesn't mean to say therefore we have to be entirely neutral as to which we think is the most desirable relationship. It is a reasonable thing for Parliament to say, marriage is the foundation of society, it's the principle institution through which children are raised, and have preferences therefore. GayNZ.com: So you're assuming in that argument that sexual orientation is a choice. Mapp: Um... no... I'm saying that, specifically, marriage is the preferred status. It's the most, you know, the foundation of society. I don't think that therefore means that people can't have other relationships, they can, but it doesn't mean you can't also say it's the foundation of society, because in reality it actually is. GayNZ.com: Should there be a free vote on this, like civil unions? It's essentially the same issue that's being discussed again. Mapp: Indeed, I suspect it may end up in that basis, ultimately anyway. GayNZ.com: Do you think that would be the best way to go? Mapp: [pause] I personally am not uncomfortable with it being a free vote. My vote, and I argued for it in the caucus at the time, that we should be supporting it. Now it almost certainly will come up in our caucus, there will be a fresh discussion because there's a new caucus, literally the half the caucus is new. GayNZ.com: In a recent interview you gave another example of political correctness: you said some people feel uncomfortable using the terms ‘husband' and ‘wife' and use partner instead. Do you remember that comment? Mapp: I do recall that. The point I was really trying to make was, a lot of married couples would actually prefer to be invited [to functions] as husband and wife, but these days the bulk of invitations seem to say ‘partner', and ‘partner' has become the default term. And I can tell you, just based on talking to people, a lot of married couples feel uncomfortable with that. They want to be able to celebrate the fact they are married. GayNZ.com: Do you not see an irony in denying same-sex couples a chance to do that? Mapp: [laughs] Well, no-one is seriously suggesting that marriage ought to be extended to gay couples. GayNZ.com: Well, its happening elsewhere in the world, why shouldn't we have that debate here? Mapp: We've actually had that debate here, with civil unions. GayNZ.com: But we're having it again now, with this bill. Mapp: Well you might say we are, I don't think we are actually. No, the debate this time will be really about marriage being the preferred institution, the bedrock of society. I suspect that's what it will centre around. GayNZ.com: Why is it a bedrock? Mapp: Because it's the principal way in which children are raised, the principle institution through which children are raised, and there's a vast amount of evidence which would indicate that children raised in marriages have the best opportunities in life... social research to that effect, compared to say, children raised in defacto relationships. There's a huge amount of research that supports that proposition.
Editor's note: Wayne Mapp's comments on glbt relationships and child-rearing carry strong echoes of the anti-gay fundamentalist mantras generally originating in the USA and much espoused in New Zealand by the discredited Maxim Institute. The last person to publicly cast such aspersions on the ability of same-sex couples' suitability to raise children was the increasingly infamous Auckland millionaire and religious activist John Sax, who penned the disturbing 'Sax-Hubbard' letter to MPs. Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard, but not co-signatories Alan Duff and ex-Family Court judge Mick Brown, has now distanced himself from that letter and point of view. Sources Sax and company used to claim that gays and lesbian parents were more likely than others to abuse and murder their children were amateurishly conducted, non-peer reviewed, religious right tracts, some of which emanated from the dubious Heritage Foundation in the USA - and none of which drew on material actually relating to glbt parenting. The authoritative American Psychological Association released a position statement on same-sex parenting noting that the sexual orientation of parents has no negative effects on their children. The 'gays can marry people of the other gender' rationale was used by fundamentalist ex-MP Paul Adams during the Civil Unions public debate, notably at a public meeting which was underpinned by the Maxim Institute and attended by, amongst others, Wayne Mapp. Chris Banks - 15th November 2005