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Smith will not vote for gay marriage

Last updated 05:00 04/12/2012
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Nelson MP Nick Smith has joined the majority who took part in his annual electorate survey and will not be supporting gay marriage.

Of the 2263 respondents - the biggest total in 22 years - 1647 (73 per cent) said that marriage should be between a man and a woman, with 575 (23 per cent) saying it should also be available to gay couples.

Dr Smith voted against the Marriage (definition of marriage) Amendment Bill when it was introduced to Parliament in August and sent to a select committee with a vote of 80 to 40.

He said at the time he would be guided by his constituents' views when the bill reached its second and third readings.

He said he had struggled with the issue, appreciated both sides of the debate and despised anti-gay bigotry.

"I want to live in a tolerant society that respects diversity, but I am also a conservative who respects long-established traditions and institutions like marriage."

Having read hundreds of survey comments on both sides, and heard from clergy who were concerned about being forced to marry gay couples against their religious beliefs, he had concluded that he would not support the bill's passage.

"We should retain the definition that marriage is between a man and a woman, with gay relationships recognised with all the same rights and protections through the Civil Union Act 2004."

Dr Smith will be drip-feeding the survey results on mining, voluntary euthanasia and local government reform throughout the week.

He sent the survey to 27.000 homes this year. He has described past results as unscientific but "a good steer".

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- The Nelson Mail

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