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As it happened: Gay marriage bill vote

Published: 7:07PM Wednesday April 17, 2013 Source: ONE News / Newstalk ZB

MP Louisa Wall's Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, which would allow same-sex couples to marry, had its third reading and final vote in Parliament tonight.

9.39pm: New Zealand has become just the thirteenth country in the world to support gay marriage.

Labour MP Louisa Wall's Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, allowing same-sex couples to marry, has passed its third reading and final vote in Parliament.

In front of a packed public gallery 77 MPs voted in favour, and 44 voted against the bill this evening.

9.30pm: The debate has now concluded and the vote is in progress.

9.10pm: Green party MP Mojo Mathers speaks of the "beautiful rainbow thread through generations, on both sides."

She speaks of the pride she has in her daughter.

"I see fear being replaced with love. Bullying being replaced with acceptance," she said.

8.55pm: Kiwi actress Melanie Lynskey tweets: "I wish I was watching the debates in NZ right now! I'm trusting my homeland to do the right thing and make #marriageequality a reality."

8.50pm: National MP Chester Borrows has said he has "changed" his views on gay marriage.

"I believe that people who love one another should be with one another," he said to applause.

"They should be publicly committed, as it will enable our community to be stronger."

However he says he will still be voting against the Bill, as "we need a larger debate on what is marriage and what isn't marriage."

8.30pm: Green MP Kevin Hague has spoken of his relationship with his partner and how homosexuality was illegal when they got together 29 years ago.

"With every new reform the same group uses the same strategy, raising fears of terrible consequences, which always fail to materialise."

He asked MPs to stand up for justice, fairness and love.

"The consequences of this Bill will be that same sex couples will marry, transgendered people will no longer have to divorce, prejudice and violence will be undermined, the world will be a better place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered New Zealanders and no one at all will be any worse off."

8.15pm: Tweet by Kerre McIvor (Kerre Woodham) - "Tonight I feel the same way as I did when I fell in love. No skyrockets - just the quiet certainty that this is the right thing to do."

8.10pm: New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says "There has hardly been a debate. There has been a small but vocal minority ... and anyone who disagrees is (condemned as) a bigot." 

He says a referendum is needed and the public's not been properly informed about the issue.

7.58pm: People are packing bars and celebrating, ahead of the bill being passed. 

"Shoulder to shoulder crowd at Auckland's Caluzzi Bar on K'Rd," tweets Ranjani P.

7.54pm: In response to Wall's speech, National MP Jami-Lee Ross said Parliament was "doing the right thing."

"I whole-heartedly commend this bill to the house," he said.

7.50pm: Wall's speech has received a standing ovation and rounds of applause.

7.47pm: Wall acknowledged the Prime Minster John Key, and the Labour leader David Shearer for their support.

"And we have seen leadership by John Banks, Peter Dunne, Hone Harawira, Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia. I also acknowledge the Greens who from the outset have taken a supportive position as a party. For them it was not a conscience vote but a manifesto commitment," she said.

Wall also thanked everyone who contacted her with support.

She concluded by saying "nothing can counteract the very real negative consequences of not passing this Bill."

"But nothing could make me more proud to be a New Zealander than passing this Bill. It's an honour to represent your country and the people of New Zealand. I'm proud to be a member of this 50th Parliament that will continue New Zealand's proud human rights tradition.  I thank my colleagues, for simply doing what is fair, just and right."

7.45pm: Wall said "in our society the meaning of marriage is universal - it's a declaration of love and commitment to a special person."

"Law that allows all people to enjoy that state is the right thing to do. Law that prohibits people from enjoying that state is just wrong.  Those who celebrate religious or cultural marriage are absolutely unaffected by this Bill. That has never been part of the State's marriage law.  And it never should be," she said.

7.40pm: Wall said that New Zealand is one of a number of countries discussing marriage equality.

"While our focus has been on Aotearoa it's important to remember we are one country that's part of a global community discussing marriage equality.  12 countries have already been through this process."

Wall said we need to learn from history and that marriage laws have been "continually been used as a tool of oppression."

"Excluding a group in society from marriage is oppressive and unacceptable," said Wall.

"There's no justification for the prohibitions of the past based on religion, race or gender."

7.30pm: MP Louisa Wall has started her speech at Parliament. She started by noting the overflowing public gallery.

"My observation in my time in the House has been that there are few occasions when the public gallery is full to overflowing. This Bill has seen a full gallery at the first and second readings and again tonight," she said.

"Having Parliament recognise and address injustices and unfairness matters to those affected by it.  It's the start of a healing process," she says.
She says this third reading is "our road towards healing and including all citizens in our state institution of marriage regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity."

7.25pm: Entertainer Lynda Topp is at Parliament tonight to witness the third reading and final reading of the Marriage Amendment Bill.

She told TV One's Seven Sharp that she thought tonight would be "history in the making" for the gay and lesbian community.

Musician Anika Moa told Seven Sharp she is proud of New Zealand tonight.

"I think it's irrelevant who you love,"  she said. "Its such a beautiful thing and its a human right to marry who you love."

7.15pm: Former National MP Marilyn Waring is at Parliament to witness the Bill's passage.

She is condemning the MPs who intend voting against it. She says they are cowards, full stop.

Waring says MPs who can't stand up for fundamental human rights are a problem as a representative for the nation.

7.00pm: People are queuing in the rain outside Parliament this evening as they try to witness ground-breaking legislation that'll legalise same sex marriage.

Most support the law change and all have important reasons for wanting to see it happen.

The debate on the Bill starts at 7.30 tonight.