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13th Mar 2013 12:41pm | By Editor
New Zealand is one step closer to legalising same-sex marriage after Parliament backed it comprehensively – 77 votes to 44 - at its second reading, with just three ministers reneging on their previous support.
Earlier, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters tried to have the decision on the law delayed until a referendum at the 2014 general election, but that was voted down 83 votes to 33.
Newly sworn in MPs Aaron Gilmore and Labour's Carol Beaumont backed the legislation while Cabinet ministers Gerry Brownlee, Jonathan Coleman and Murray McCully and National MP Ian McKelvie changed their previous yes vote to a no.
Bill sponsor, Labour MP Louisa Wall, told Parliament: "The agony and hardship that so many who bravely made submissions have had to face is unreasonable. But what's totally unacceptable, is the state perpetuating that agony and hardship by not issuing marriage licences to loving, consenting and eligible non-heterosexual couples."
In her argument for the bill she quoted both Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who compares homosexual prejudice to apartheid and hip-hop artist Macklemore’s song Same Love.
"I hope the House will give a message to all young people. You don't have to change. You can be who you are and we, as a society, will value who you are," Hall said, and was met with applause from MPs and the packed public gallery.
The bill is expected back in Parliament for the committee stage later this month, when it will be picked through clause by clause, and could be passed next month.
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