Gay Kiwis might return home for recognition

Last updated 16:08 18/04/2013

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A New Zealand same-sex couple who planned to spend their lives in Australia say they may return home if their marriage is not recognised.

Lee Haukendahl and Kerryn Benefield will marry in New Zealand in September, but when they step off the plane on their return to Australia their vows will not be recognised.

The couple celebrated with sparkling wine as they watched parliament in their home land pass same-sex marriage legislation last night. They have lived in Australia for five years and planned to remain here.

''This is where we want to stay, this is where we want to be and have our family,'' Benefield said.

''But if equality doesn't come through then what's the point in  staying here?"

Haukendahl called on Australia's political leaders to allow a conscience vote.

''It is not something that will go away,'' she said. ''It is something that people will push forward until it is inevitable. People coming together under one law makes a stronger nation.''

Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said same sex marriage could provide a $700 million boost to the Australian economy and instead much of that money will be spent across the Tasman.

''An immense opportunity is being lost by the federal government here,'' he said.

''The estimate is that if all Australian same sex couples could marry tomorrow they would spend $700 million on their weddings.''

The Greens will introduce legislation in the Australian Senate to have overseas same sex marriages recognised in Australia. 

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said it was wonderful that New Zealand has passed marriage equality laws, but sad that when gay  and lesbian Australians returned from New Zealand their marriages would not be recognised.

Meanwhile former Greens leader Bob Brown has said Australia risks being left behind in the 20th century unless it follows New Zealand's example and legalises gay marriage. 

"'I spoke a number of times with (Prime Minister) Julia Gillard on this issue when  I was leader of the Greens, and she has an inexplicable mind block on it," Brown said. 

'It shows Julia Gillard putting Australia right behind other countries like Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.''

- AAP and Reuters

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