An online petition opposing the legalisation of same-sex
marriage has been signed by nearly 20,000 people in its first
Conservative lobby group Family First launched the petition
on its protectmarriage.co.nz website last Monday as part of
its campaign against the marriage equality bill put forward
by Labour MP Louisa Wall.
It said it had gathered 19,928 signatures by 6am today.
The petition statement reads: "I support the definition of
marriage in New Zealand being maintained as one man one
woman. I oppose any attempt to redefine it."
Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said the
response was "great news" after a series of early setbacks
for the website.
It was taken offline on its first day by a large scale denial
of service attack before coming under fire from US band Train
for using their song Marry Me without permission.
"There is no shortage of energy and robust debate - and on
such an important issue as the role and purpose of marriage,
that's great news," Mr McCoskrie said.
"We have been calling for recognition of the value and
importance of marriage for a long time. Although distracted
by the 'definition' debate, it is still a great opportunity
to promote marriage and its important function and purpose in
Meanwhile, a Labour MP has spoken out against the marriage
equality bill over fears it will cost his party at the 2014
Su'a William Sio, the MP for Mangere, is calling for Ms Wall,
a fellow South Auckland MP, to drop the bill.
He told Radio New Zealand the bill was deeply divisive in his
electorate, which has the highest Pacific population of any
constituency in the country.
It was likely to cost Labour some of its core Pacific
support, he said.
"This issue cuts deep into fundamental beliefs and it will
divide the community ... . I feel somewhat betrayed by
raising issues such as this when there are more prominent,
more weightier issues such as jobs and income and putting
food on the table and paying for the bills."
Ms Wall said she completely disagreed that her bill would
divide traditional Labour supporters and cost the party at
the next election.
"Issues of human rights and eliminating discrimination
wherever we see it are fundamental policies of the Labour
She said she had received support from Maori and Pacific
communities, along a number of church leaders over the bill.
Much of the opposition to the bill was down to inaccurate
"scaremongering" such as claims churches would be forced to
marry gay couples, she said.
"Fundamentally it's about two people who love each other
going to the state and getting their union solemnised."
The select committee process for the bill, which is expected
to pass its first reading, was more important than petitions
on sites such as protectmarriage.co.nz, Ms Wall said.
- Hayden Donnell, nzherald.co.nz