Peter Mortlock, head of Auckland’s City Impact Church, has emailed his flock asking them to rig a New Zealand poll on marriage equality by casting multiple votes.
New Zealand’s foreign affairs and sport minister Murray McCully's website poll asks ‘Do you support or oppose the proposed legislation that would make it possible for same-sex couples to marry?’
In the email, Mortlock, who is known for his passionate anti-gay stance said: ‘Since we are able to vote as many times as we like I'd encourage you to place your votes and keep checking back’, reported the portal GayNZ.com.
In 2004, Mortlock and his fellow Impact pastor Paul Adams claimed that they were fasting over a three week period so that God will ‘strike down’ the New Zealand’s Civil Unions bill.
The bill, however, passed into law allowing legal recognition of same-sex relationships.
According to the portal GayNZ.com, McCully's ministerial staff quickly spotted the attempt to skew his poll and have taken steps to delete multiple votes.
Ana Samways of the New Zealand Herald dubbed the incident as ‘poll shenanigans’, adding: ‘Rigging a poll doesn't seem very Christian does it?’
As of this morning (16 January) the poll shows 64.1% of respondents in favour of the Marriage Equality bill, with 35.9% respondents opposing it.
The poll does not indicate how many votes have been counted.
On 29 August 2012, the Marriage Equality bill passed its first reading in the country’s parliament on a conscience vote with 80 votes in favour, 40 votes against, and one abstention.
The bill was subsequently referred to the Government Administration Select Committee for further consideration and public input.
Public submissions for the bill closed on 26 October 2012, with early estimates show a majory of submissions in support of the bill.
The select committee must report back to the parliament by 28 February 2013 (unless an extension is granted) on whether the bill should be passed or not, and any amendments that should occur to the bill.
A second reading in parliament has been tentatively scheduled for Wednesday 20 March, with a third and final reading possible in May this year.