Labour MP Louisa Wall is today releasing a new Member’s Bill to end discrimination in the Marriage Act 1955 so that same-sex couples have the same rights as other New Zealanders to formalise their relationship.
“The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill will ensure that all New Zealanders have the right to marry regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.
“At the moment, the only option for same sex couples to formalise their relationship is to have a civil union, or to travel overseas to one of the growing number of jurisdictions that recognise same-sex marriage. Some would prefer to have a New Zealand marriage ceremony and they deserve that right.
“Our leader David Shearer has made it clear that Labour’s top priority is to get this country back in the black and to grow our economy so that it delivers opportunities to all New Zealanders.
“It is also a priority to ensure that all New Zealanders get equal opportunity and a fair go. This Bill is part of addressing that. It will ensure that people are not discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Current legal restrictions also limit the ability of same sex couples to adopt a child. Labour believes that this is one of several ways in which the 50-year-old Adoption Act is outdated.
“A separate bill to update the law generally in this area, in the name of my colleague Jacinda Ardern, is already in the ballot Meanwhile, if my Bill is drawn and passes into law, its likely effect will be to allow same-sex couples who marry also to adopt, thus making a contribution to the modernising process.
“This Bill is an important step forward for New Zealand. Marriage is a fundamental human right and it is only fair that all New Zealanders have equal opportunity to recognise their relationship within the social and legal institution of marriage if they so choose.
“This will be a conscience issue in Parliament. I’m urging all MPs to support the Bill if is drawn from the ballot,” said Louisa Wall.