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Gay marriage likely to pass first hurdle

Published: 12:24PM Thursday July 26, 2012 Source: ONE News

The same-sex marriage bill looks likely to pass its first stage of Parliament, according to a Close Up poll.

Labour MP Louisa Wall's private members bill, which would allow all New Zealanders to marry regardless of their sexual orientation, was pulled from the ballot today.

The bill is likely to be subject to a conscience vote, and Close Up contacted all of New Zealand's 121 MPs to see where they stand.

Forty-two will definitely support the bill, including all Green Party MPs, Peter Dunne and Hone Harawira, 21 Labour MPs and a handful of National MPs. But some qualified their support, saying they would only support it to the first reading so it will make the select committee.

Only New Zealand First list MP Richard Prosser admitted to being against the bill, while 18 were undecided at this time. Many said they were waiting to read the bill and canvass the feeling in their electorates.

Six MPs refused to disclose where they stood to Close Up and 54 MPs couldn't be contacted.

The bill needs 61 votes to pass, and Wall told Close Up she was confident it will get the numbers.

Wall said leading a same-sex marriage bill through Parliament is about fairness and equality for all New Zealand couples.

"I feel like a champion for ordinary New Zealanders who love each other, who want to marry, who want what everyone else has access to," she said today.

"This bill is based on the premise that everyone should have equal opportunity to recognise their relationship within the social and legal institution of marriage. It will ensure that all New Zealanders have the right to marry regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity."

Wall said she could understand where religious leaders were coming from in opposing the bill, but churches would not be forced to solemnise a gay marriage under the bill.

"I want to be very clear that this bill will in no way compromise the position that churches take on marriage."

The bill would also pave the way for same-sex couples to adopt children, because same-sex couples will be defined as spouses and will be able to jointly adopt.

Public support

A ONE News Colmar Brunton poll revealed in June that 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.

But some people say the move undermines society as we know it.

"Marriage and family is under tremendous strain today and when you get the whole thing more and more blurred, as this will be a blurring, I think it actually does weaken marriage for society," Baptist theologian Laurie Guy told ONE News.

Family First also opposes the bill and said it will be lobbying politicians to vote against it.

It is likely to be a divisive issue within Parliament and many National and New Zealand First members said they have not thought about where they stand.

Prime Minister John Key said he expects MPs will follow their own conscience, and he will personally be supporting it at its first reading.

"I will let it go through the Select Committee. I think it's important for New Zealanders to have an opportunity to have input into that bill through the Select Committee process and in due course I will give consideration about whether I will ultimately finally vote for that as law," he said today.

The Young Nats have also come out in support of the Bill, and will be lobbying National MPs.

"Our generation overwhelmingly supports marriage equality for all New Zealanders and our Members of Parliament need to vote with that in mind," Young Nats President, Sean Topham, said.

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

The bill was one of five drawn from the ballot. Also drawn was Labour MP David Clark's bill to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by March 31, 2013.

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  • brendankiwi said on 2012-08-13 @ 08:35 NZDT: Report abusive post

    New Zealand is a liberal dictatorship. The main reason cited for altering marriage to include gays is global shifts and its the right time....actually the only countries that pander to gay lobbyists are in the dying west. Countries like Sweden, Belgium and Spain are non entities bankrupt fiancially and morally...and their native population is dying very fast because of anti family policies, abortion mentality, high immigration. On the other hand, suicide and depression is so high.

  • wookie said on 2012-07-26 @ 19:42 NZDT: Report abusive post

    legalisation of gay marriage opens the way for gay couples to adopt children as a couple and perhaps access the public health system to obtain in-vitro fertilisation. This is against my beliefs, hetrosexual couples have enough trouble accessing adoption and in-vitro without allowing minority groups to have children this way. I believe it also contributes to the breakdown of moral values in our society.

  • Kayt01 said on 2012-07-26 @ 19:30 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Thank you Louisa

  • wilton said on 2012-07-26 @ 19:13 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Whats in a word. Wife has been changed to partner. So why don't we call the women of the partners in a gay relationship a wife and the husband of a lesbian partnership a husband. Marriage means the joining of a wife and a husband so lets get the wording all corrected?

  • nekminnit said on 2012-07-26 @ 16:04 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I would love to get married one day. This law will allow this. I support this bill 100%.