Gay and transgender couples could be able to marry - and
adopt children - as soon as August, after a Parliamentary
committee approved a change to marriage laws.
The Government Administration select committee considered
21,533 public submissions on the bill to legalise same-sex
marriage, 2898 of them unique, and a majority of members
recommended that it should be passed into law with a few
The committee said the Marriage Act should be amended to put
it beyond doubt that religious ministers were not obliged to
marry couples against their will, and would not breach
people's rights if they spoke against gay marriage from the
Labour MP Louisa Wall, the bill's sponsor, said it was always
the intention of the bill to protect religious freedoms, but
the amendments would make it explicit.
The bill would be read for a second time on March 13 and was
likely to go into committee stages on March 27.
If it was not stalled in committee, it could pass into law in
After the law passed, there will be a four-month period
before same-sex weddings can take place, which means couples
will be able to get married in August at the earliest.
Officials said there was a chance that the entire four-month
window would not be required before marriages could go ahead
but this would be confirmed later in the year.
The bill would also make it possible for gay and transgender
couples to adopt.
The report said it was "absurd" that gay individuals could
adopt but same-sex couples could not, and it recommended that
married couples were eligible to adopt regardless of the
Of the submissions on the bill, 10,487 were in favour and
The legislation passed its first reading by 80 votes to 40,
but many of those supporters pledged their vote for the first
reading only and would reconsider after the select committee
Submissions heard: 220
- Isaac Davison of the NZ Herald