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BREAKING NEWS: Bill passes first reading

Wed 29 Aug 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News

A bill which will allow gay couples to marry has passed its first reading in Parliament. The majority was 78 to 40, larger than expected. Bill author Louisa Wall received loud applause from the packed public gallery after her opening statement, which prompted Speaker Lockwood Smith to spell out the rules and warn the public it had to remain quiet. Wall again offered an assurance it will not mean a religious minister has to marry gay couples.   "That is the situation now, and nothing will change. And because we have freedom of religion in New Zealand no religious body is bound to marry a couple if that marriage is at odd with their religion's belief,” she said.   Pro-equality National MP Nikki Kaye stood up for the Bill, saying it’s "about justice and the basic right of every New Zealand to have full equality before the law".   Among the surprise movers was National MP Paul Hutchison, who said he could find no reason to vote against the Bill. He spoke of his concern for the higher self-harm rates and health issues suffered by GLBT youth and revealed his decision comes after discussions with lesbian Labour MP Maryan Street and gay Green MP Kevin Hague.   “I simply cannot construct and intellectual, moral, spiritual or health argument against it,” Dr Hutchison said.   More to follow …        

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 29th August 2012 - 9:11pm

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