A same-sex marriage bill was picked today to be debated and voted on by the parliament in New Zealand.
The Definition of Marriage Amendment Bill was sponsored by lesbian Labour MP Louisa Wall and it states that marriage should be defined as the union of two people regardless of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.
The bill was one of five drawn from a pool of 62 bills in the Members’ Bill Ballot.
‘I think it’s got a good chance of going through,’ Labour leader of the opposition David Shearer said today, confirming that he will support the bill. ‘I think it’s the reality of our times.’
Prime Minister John Key has previously said he is ‘personally not opposed’ to same-sex marriage and ‘might vote for it’.
New Zealand’s Green Party, with 14 MPs, fully supports gay marriage and MPs in all parties will be allowed a free conscience vote on the issue. If they vote according to the electorate’s wishes – a poll in June showed that 63% support same-sex marriage – the bill is likely to go through.
Civil unions have been legal for same-sex couples since 2005 in New Zealand, but the campaign for gay marriage shows that they are not considered adequate, even though they give people the same legal rights as married couples.
New Zealand TV presenter Ali Mau, who is in a same-sex relationship, said in June that civil unions were not enough because ‘they still separate us… and in New Zealand we don’t believe in being separated into different tribes – we’re all one people. Why shouldn’t we have the same rights?’.
Australian Marriage Equality (AME) said in a statement that they welcomed New Zealand’s news but added that many Australians will feel ashamed that their antipodean neighbor may have marriage equality before them.
‘Australia risks falling behind New Zealand,’ said AME’s national convenor Alex Greenwich adding that Australia could lose out financially.
‘According to the latest census figures over 1,300 Aussie couples have already flown as far as the Netherlands and Norway to get married. Far more Australians would be prepared to make the three hour trip to New Zealand to marry.’