The New Zealand parliament has voted in favor of same-sex marriage with 77 MPs for and 44 against at the second reading of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill.
The Bill will now progress to committee stage and return to parliament for a third and final reading, which could be in just four weeks from now.
Labour MP Louisa Wall, sponsor of the Bill started the debate tonight by saying:
‘It’s not about gay marriage, same-sex marriage or straight marriage, it’s about equality.’
Wall said she will ‘defend the rights of those in churches to practise their religion’ but hopes they will accept gay marriage ‘in their own time’.
National MP Tim Macindoe spoke next and said he finds ‘difficulty in believing that God wants this change to be made’. But fellow National MP Chris Auchinvole spoke in support of the bill, saying the submissions to the committee ‘shout out change that we cannot close our ears to’.
‘This bill seeks to put first something that critics have accused it of undermining: the family,’ Auchinvole added.
Winston Peters, leader of NZ First, called for a referendum on the Bill, which he said had ‘no democratic mandate at all’. A vote on holding a referendum into the issue was rejected 83 to 33 by MPs.
After progressing this far, the Bill is likely to be passed at third reading, allowing gay couples to marry by August this year.