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New Zealand basks in gold rush as same-sex marriages become legal from Monday

New Zealand basks in gold rush as same-sex marriages become legal from Monday

There is love in the air, parties on the way and a rush to pack suitcases as New Zealand makes history Monday when nearly three dozen couples will say they do with the government approving same-sex marriages.

New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs said 31 weddings were scheduled to take place. However, the number can go up given the intense interest and excitement at home and afar.

The department said 977 marriage forms were downloaded ahead of the historic day, which means three times as usual.

The keenest queries have poured in from Australia, the US, Britain and China.

There is also interest from Singapore and Malaysia in the Asia-Pacific neighborhood, where sex between men is a criminal offense, according to law.

Some of Monday’s weddings are being sponsored by New Zealand’s state tourism organizations as the reform is expected to push up visitor numbers considerably.

Same-sex couples are regarded as being more frequent travelers than traditional families and with greater sending power.

Countries in the neighborhood will now see more couples heading towards New Zealand for symbolic wedding ceremonies though the unions may not be recognized in their home countries.

Through a highly publicized competition, New Zealand Tourism chose an Australian couple, Paul McCarthy and Trent Kandler, to sponsor their wedding in Te Papa, Wellington Monday.

While Australia still debates same-sex marriage, McCarthy and Kandler will become the first gay Australian couple to wed in New Zealand Monday.

Normally a private pair, they are said to have submitted to the media glare because they want “all Australians to be watching and every politician to pay attention”, news.com.au reported.

Air New Zealand has chosen as the faces of its “love in the air” promotion a same-sex couple from New Zealand.

Aucklanders Lynley Bendall and Ally Wanikau will tie the knot on a plane at 30,000 feet above ground in a ceremony to be attended by Jesse Tyler Ferguson of US sitcom Modern Family fame as a guest.

The Edge will broadcast two weddings, one featuring Richard Rawstorn and Richard Andrew from Christchurch, while Jess Ives and Rachel Briscoe from the Bay of Islands are the second couple.

The New Zealand media was full of reports about Monday’s brides and grooms.

New Zealand Herald (NZH) reported how lesbian pair Tash Vitali and Melissa Ray took rumba lessons from celebrity dance instructor Candy Lane for their special day as part of a ZM radio station competition.

They will dance to Mariah Carey’s “Beautiful”, fly in a helicopter to Waiheke Island and Karekare on the West Coast after the noon reception, and party on in a bar till early Tuesday, it said.

However, despite the government approval not everyone in New Zealand is endorsing the unions.

NZH said churches are split on the subject.

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference is among those against the change. So is Family First, which said lawmakers had "committed an arrogant act of cultural vandalism" by allowing gay marriages.

On the bright side, NZH said three leading Kiwi singers have come up with a new single, “Why Don’t We”, to show their support.