Gay marriage law inches closer

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 12:27 27/02/2013
Louisa Wall
Fairfax NZ
LOUISA WALL: "This is another important milestone towards achieving a fairer, more equal New Zealand."

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Gay marriage legislation has been reported back to Parliament with majority support.

The Marriage Amendment Bill was before the government administration select committee after passing its first reading in the House.

The committee reported back today and recommended the bill be adopted, although there were those who believed civil unions went far enough.

"The majority of us consider that marriage is a human right and that it is unacceptable for the state to deny this right to same-sex couples."

Others believed it was not a right and should only be for heterosexual couples.

More than 21,530 submissions were received - 10,487 in favour and 8148 against.

Much of the opposition came from religious groups and the committee recommended an amendment to ensure celebrants were not forced to conduct ceremonies.

"To clarify beyond doubt that no celebrant is obliged to solemnise if solemnising that marriage would contravene the religious beliefs of the religious body or the religious beliefs or philosophical or humanitarian convictions of the approved organisation."

The bill was a member's bill in Lousia Wall's name.

She welcomed the select committee's support.

"This is another important milestone towards achieving a fairer, more equal New Zealand."

Marriage equality was about fairness and choice, she said.

The New Zealand Campaign for Marriage Equality also welcomed the announcement.

"The report sends a clear message that New Zealand is ready for marriage equality. It is a ringing endorsement of love, fairness, family, and for the equal treatment of all kiwis before the law," spokesman Conrad Reyners said.

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