| Latest Political News | Wednesday August 29 2012 5:22
Uncertainty surrounds New Zealand First's position on Louisa Wall's marriage equality Bill that will open the door to gay marriage.
The Prime Minister's unsure of how New Zealand First will vote tonight.
"I don't know whether New Zealand First is going to vote against it or abstain. I'd heard they were going to abstain."
And New Zealand First MP Brendan Horan's not shedding much light on it either saying his party will only support the Bill if it has a referendum on gay marriage included in it. But there are no plans by the Labour MP or the Government to go down that track.
He's adamant a referendum is the right path to take.
"I'm saying it's an issue of public morality and it's very emotive. I've got thousands of emails from people and I think it should go to all of New Zealand to decide."
Pushed on how he'll actually vote, Mr Horan was evasive, eventually saying this.
"If there's no referendum in the Bill, we won't support it."
There's concern MPs haven't done enough to get the views of their electorate when it comes to marriage equality.
Conservative Party leader Colin Craig doesn't think the vote will be an accurate reflection of society.
"My biggest concern is the MPs who are just not consulting with their electorates at all. They're being swayed by those who lobby with them directly and we see that as a key point in terms of going forward on this one."
But Campaign for Marriage Equality spokesman Jeremy Lambert says there's still a lot of debate to be had.
"Yes there is a long way to and there'll be a lot of debate to and fro in the meantime."
Labour leader David Shearer says he is comfortable with his MP Su'a William Sio voting against the bill.
"And he's reflecting what he is picking up from his own community about how they feel about the bill, and he'll vote against it and that's fair enough.
"I certainly know of a couple of other MPs that'll vote against it as well and there's possibly more."
Mr Shearer says it is an unusual situation where MPs don't have to follow party lines.
National MP Chris Finlayson has finally announced which way he intends voting on the Marriage Amendment Bill tonight.
Mr Finlayson has been among a handful of MPs whose position had been uncertain.
But on the way into parliament this afternoon he told reporters he will vote against the Bill.
"I think there's a way through this; you register unions and you leave marriages to the mosque, the synagogue, the church, the temple and I think that's a much cleverer way of dealing with this issue."
A large crowd is marching on Parliament in support of gay marriage.
Police are escorting the group which began marching in Wellington's Civic Square just after midday.
More than a thousand people are marching up Lambton Quay with a signs and rainbow flags in bright colours dotted through the crowd.
A handful of silent protestors, and MPs from most parties, met the marchers at Parliament's steps.
Bill author Louisa Wall told those gathered the legislation is about ending discrimination.
"I'm so incredibly proud to represent all of you and I thank you in solidarity, because we will do this but we will only do it together."
Ms Wall told them they do not need to fear what her Bill will do.
"You will be able to as Christians continue to define marriage for what it means to you but please enable your fellow New Zealand citizens to get a license from the state, to celebrate the love that they have for each other."
Louisa Wall says it is fundamentally about human rights.
Legalise Love Wellington spokesman Joseph Habgood says they'll be meeting in Civic Square at midday to hold a rally.
"There'll be a few speakers there to just get people enthused and at 12:30pm we're marching...hopefully we'll get to parliament by about 1pm."
Mr Habgood says there's been an amazing amount of support for the Bill.
A campaigner for same-sex marriage says it's time New Zealand caught up to other countries.
Jeremy Lambert campaigned for civil unions eight years ago when he says New Zealand was at the forefront of the issue.
But he says that's changed.
"We've started to fall quite a way behind other countries in recognising same-sex marriage. This Bill is about bringing us up to speed where other countries are already at."
Mr Lambert says the Bill is about having a single law that doesn't discriminate against gays and lesbians.
Opponents of a bill legalising gay marriage remain adamant it's flawed as it approaches its first hurdle tonight.
But Wellington Catholic priest Merv Duffy is opposed to the bill in its entirety as he fears a redefining of marriage.
"Law shouldn't redefine words that are in the dictionary, that something which is known by one name should not be confused with something different."
Mr Duffy says opponents will be contacting parliamentarians to try and stop the Bill going ahead.
Another top lawyer is concerned the Marriage Amendment Bill will see religious people in court.
Ian Bassett was commissioned by Family First to give them a legal opinion on the bill.
He found church ministers, wedding celebrants and even wedding photographers could be convicted if they refused to marry same-sex couples.
Grant Illingworth QC says he's correct.
"What is clear is that if the definition of marriage is changed, that automatically brings a number of situations within the scope of the anti-discrimination provisions of the Bill of Rights and the Human Rights Act."
The Bill is expected to have its first reading after 8PM.
Photo: NZ Herald