Little change expected for gay marriage legislation

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 27/03/2013
Louisa Wall
Fairfax NZ
LOUISA WALL: "This is another important milestone towards achieving a fairer, more equal New Zealand."

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Last-ditch attempts to water down gay marriage legislation look set to fail when it goes back before Parliament today.

Labour MP Louisa Wall's member's bill to legalise same-sex marriage will be debated this evening, with the third reading and final vote expected next month.

The bill passed its second reading 77 to 44 votes, after four National MPs dropped their support.

Several suggested amendments were expected to be discussed today, including NZ First's call for a referendum on same-sex marriage.

Both NZ First leader Winston Peters and independent MP Brendan Horan have put forward supplementary order papers calling for a referendum.

Another likely proposal is to extend the protection of religious freedom to celebrants rather than just churches.

The bill has already been amended to ensure celebrants are not forced to marry gay couples if it is against their beliefs.

Other trickier proposed amendments are likely to include a bid to prevent the legalisation of gay marriage from influencing adoption laws, exempting retailers and contractors from human rights laws and outlawing discrimination in the provision of goods and services.

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