|Louisa Wall “The Rainbow Gods have smiled at us,” is the verdict of Labour’s Rainbow Caucus Chair Louisa Wall, after her marriage equality Bill has defied the slim odds and been pulled from Parliament’s Ballot, just weeks after it went in.
“There’s a global consensus around marriage equality at the moment, so it’s great that we can have the debate and discussion in New Zealand,” Wall tells GayNZ.com from Parliament.
The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill will ensure that all New Zealanders have the right to marry regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Wall says the Bill will now be on Parliament’s Order Paper, and will be fourth in line on the next Member’s Day, which means it is likely to be discussed – whenever the next Member’s Day is. “A Member’s Day isn’t a set day,” she says, but explains the next one is likely to be in a few weeks’ time.
The vote will be down to the consciences of individual MPs, she says, “so if our community wants this, and also supporters of our community – friends and family – we’ve really got to show MPs that the support is there for this Bill and that everybody wants it, because for us it is a fundamental human right and it’s about having choice.”
She has already been speaking with MPs from across the House, including Kevin O’Rourke from New Zealand First.
Wall says she is proud to have her name on the Bill and is acknowledging the work and support of her Rainbow Labour colleagues Charles Chauvel, Grant Robertson and Maryan Street, as well as the Greens’ Rainbow pair Jan Logie and Kevin Hague.
“I’m really proud to be the champion of this Bill,” she finishes.
Where is Parliament at?
Hone Harawira While the stances of dozens of MPs are unknown, around 58 have so far declared they would vote for marriage equality legislation, at least through the first reading, the latest being Mana Party leader Hone Harawira - after much encouragement from within his party.
The Maori Party is now in the pro camp, all of the Green Party’s MPs will vote in favour, while United Future’s Peter Dunne has made positive noises.
Labour MPs will decide individually, and the majority are in favour, with Damien “gaggle of gays” O’Connor in a minority against such a move.
It’s not as clear cut with National; John Key has promised he will at least see any legislation passed the first reading, but has made no statement on whether he will back it through the necessary second and third readings. His Deputy Bill English has told media today it’s ''not that important'' and he ''thought the problem had been solved'' with civil unions.
Senior Government Minister Steven Joyce said he had ''not given it a moment's thought'' and it was ''not exactly the biggest issue of the day,'' (despite leading in major news outlets throughout the day).
Nikki Kaye is among the National MPs who are pro gay rights National’s Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye is for marriage equality and has been firm and outspoken in this stance, while MPs Amy Adams, Jackie Blue, Tau Henare, Colin King, Jami-Less Ross and David Bennett are believed to also be in favour.
The stances of most of the National's MPs are unknown.
It’s a mixed bag for New Zealand First: former weatherman Brendan Horan is believed to be for equality, along with colleagues Tracey Martin, Andrew Williams and Kevin O’Rourke, while Winston Peters is unlikely to vote for equality and the rest of the party’s MPs are either against, or their stance is unknown. MP Richard Prosser says although he has ''nothing against gays'' he will be voting against to ''preserve the institution of marriage''.
ACT Leader John Banks is so far in the unknown category.
(Note: data taken from research on marriageequality.co.nz)
Where to from here?
If the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill gets the required 61 votes to pass its first reading, it will go through the Select Committee process, allowing public feedback, and two further readings before being passed into law.
Meanwhile, a New Zealand Herald home page poll which has had more than 6,000 votes shows 59 per cent support for marriage equality, while another on Close Up's Facebook page is overwhelmingly in favour Jacqui Stanford - 26th July 2012