Youth boost for gay marriage

Last updated 12:21 11/03/2013

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Youth wings of the major political parties have joined together in support of gay marriage - almost.

In a joint press conference outside Parliament today the youth wings of National, Labour, ACT, Mana, Maori, Greens, United Future and NZ First signed a banner in support of the bill which is expected to have its second reading on Wednesday.

Campaign for Marriage Equality spokesman Conrad Reyners said the united front from the youth political wings sent a clear message.

"It's pretty clear the youth of New Zealand support fairness, they support love," Reyners said.

Representatives for each party expressed their support for gay marriage, saying it was about equality and unity.

However, NZ First's Curwen Rolinson said while he personally supported the move, his party's policy was to call for a referendum.

"We support the principle of a referendum and we are very sad that this bill doesn't presently do that,"  Rolinson said.

The two views were not contradictory, he said.

A majority within the party's youth wing supported "a yes vote in a referendum".

All six NZ First MPs voted against the first reading, saying a referendum should decide.

"We can't ask our MPs to vote for something which doesn't include a referendum, that is simply our principles," Rolinson said.

Labour MP Louisa Wall's members bill to legalise same-sex marriage is a conscience vote meaning MPs can make up their own minds about whether to support it. It passed its first reading in Parliament with 80 votes to 40.

Young Nats spokesman Shaun Wallis said his group had a bigger job to convince its MPs because there were more of them and about half were opposed.

"We've continued to talk to MPs, to put forward our reasons," Topham said.

That was the beauty of a conscience vote, he said.

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