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Marriage Equality Bill moves through committee stage

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Latest Political News | Thursday March 28 2013 7:14

Marriage Equality Bill moves through committee stage

Louisa Wall's marriage amendment bill has fended off efforts to amend it in Parliament.

While two MPs wanted a referendum on the issue, and three wanted to see more religious protection for those opposed to marrying gay couples - the bill went through as it stands.

The committee stage debate of Louisa Wall's Marriage Equality Bill took place last night.

The committee stage gives MPs a chance to propose amendments to bills.

During the debate on gay marriage Labour's Moana Mackey spoke on behalf of Louisa Wall, and shot down an argument that children raised by a gay couple are worse off.

"I think if we're looking at the rights of children in this country then this bill actually does afford more legal rights and protections, as well as social protections and stability."

But National's Ian McKelvie said there's simply no need for gay marriage.

"We're attempting to legislate to eliminate difference in this bill, for no other reason than to overturn the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, and make it available to everyone. Well I'm sorry, but that's not the way of the world."

Chester Borrows argued for a change to the bill to offer more protection for independent celebrants.

He says while there are protections that protect celebrants authorised or endorsed by the organisation they belong to, they don't extend to independent celebrants.

"Although there is a clause there that says no celebrant is obliged to marry any couple that presents themselves for marriage, the fact is you'd have to tell a lie not to perform that marriage."

However Labour's Moana Mackey said it wouldn't be an issue - as no one would want a celebrant to marry them, unwillingly.

"On one of the most important days of your life, I don't think that any couple is going to want to have someone presiding over their ceremony, who doesn't want to be the and who is only there under threat of legal action."

Labour's Jacinda Adern made a heartfelt speech, explaining on whose behalf she would cast her vote.

"I cast my vote on behalf of queer and questioning youth, on behalf of my friends, and I cast it on behalf of my uncle."

Winston Peters was gunning for a referendum on the issue.

The New Zealand First leader said New Zealanders have the right to vote on an issue that they are seriously concerned about, and divided over.

"Where did some of the members of this parliament ever attain that intellectual and moral and ethical superiority ... (and) tell New Zealanders what they think of their views?."

But National's Chris Auchinvole was adamant he wouldn't vote for a referendum.

"The law should not be used to exclude people, and neither should referenda be used to exclude people, and I think that could be the result of using a referendum in this case."

The marriage equality bill will now go through to its third and final reading.

While politicians debated amendments to the gay marriage bill in Parliament last night, protestors gathered outside.

There were two groups - one for gay marriage, the other against.

The lawn at the foot of Parliament's steps was divided into two - one side stood quietly, some with their arms outstretched and their eyes closed, as they prayed against the passing of the bill.

On the other side those who support the bill chanted, sang and waved bright flags.

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