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Marriage Equality Bill Passes First Hurdle

A bill allowing for same sex marriage completed the first stage of entering into law tonight.

A packed public gallery joined many MPs in applauding and cheering as the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill passed its first reading by 78 to 40 on a conscience vote with none abstaining.

The bill’s sponsor Labour MP Louisa Wall said New Zealand had led the world in outlawing discrimination and the bill would make all people equal under the law.

Wall said the bill would not force churches or celebrants to perform gay marriages if it was against their religious belief,

It was time for anyone who wanted to enter the institution of marriage to be able to and not discriminate against them on sexual orientation or gender, she said.

After Wall’s speech there was warm applause from the public gallery and Speaker Lockwood Smith warned those watching that parliamentary rules did not allow them to enter into the debate.

Labour MP Su’a William Sio said he was expected to represent his community which did not support the bill, despite a majority of MPs being in favour.

It was an issue that was very sensitive within the Pacific community and even within his family.

The Samoan culture allowed for same-sex relationships, but he would prefer civil union legislation to be strengthened as same sex marriage would change the institution of marriage.

He implored that those with differing views to each other to keep the debate civilised in the coming months.

There were a limited number of calls on the bill –

Nikki Kaye, Kevin Hague, David Clark, Paul Hutchison and Jami-Lee Ross spoke in favour,

Tim Macindoe and John Hayes opposed.

Winston Peters said he opposed the bill because conscience votes were ``undemocratic’’.

Issues of public morality should be put to the public through a referendum, Peters said.

The bill will now be considered by the Government Administration Committee for six months.

Earlier in the evening the Resource Management (Restricted Duration of Certain Discharge and Coastal Permits) Amendment Bill passed its first reading by 61 to 60 with National and ACT opposing.

** is a breaking news source for New Zealand parliamentary business featuring broadcast daily news reports.

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