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Conservative leader supports gay marriage referendum

Published: 1:11PM Sunday June 10, 2012 Source: ONE News

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig says he will support a referendum to allow same-sex couples to marry if New Zealanders decide they "are ready for a change".

Labour MP Louisa Wall has submitted a bill to make gay marriage legal, and Green MP Kevin Hague is working on a Marriage (Equality) Amendment Bill to put into the next members' bill ballot.

Craig told TVNZ's Q+A programme today that he is opposed to gay marriage, but would "absolutely" back a referendum on the issue if Kiwis support it.

"If all New Zealanders decide `hey yeah we're ready for a change', fair enough, but I don't think that's where New Zealanders are at," he said.

However, a ONE News Colmar Brunton poll earlier this week revealed nearly two-thirds of people support same-sex marriage.

Asked if they think same-sex couples should be able to get married, 63% of respondents said yes, 31% said no and 6% did not know or preferred not to say.

Craig said he supports civil unions, but said people are invested in the word marriage.

"What we're talking about here is who has the right to use and define the word marriage.

"And I believe there's status quo. Generation after generation marriage has been between a man and a woman.

"This word is 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 is about respecting what that word already means."

Wall argued that marriage is a human right for everybody.

Prime Minister John Key said he is not against gay marriage and Labour leader David Shearer said he wants to see legislation.

It is 26 years since the Homosexual Law Reform Bill was passed and eight years since Parliament legislated for civil unions.