Marriage equality has passed another significant hurdle in New Zealand this evening. Before a bill can be voted on for the third and final time, it is considered by the Committee of the whole House. During this process any Member of Parliament can propose an amendment to the Bill. Each proposed amendment is then voted on.
Tonight two types of amendments were proposed by MPs in relation to the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. The first type of proposed amendments related to a proposal to put marriage equality to a public referendum. These proposals were ruled out of order because they had already been defeated at the Bill’s second reading and so did not result in any amendments to the Bill.
The second type of proposed amendments related to proposals to strengthen the ability of marriage celebrants to decline to marry same sex couples. The Bill already contains protections in this area – essentially marriage celebrants acting on behalf of a religious institution can refuse to marry a same sex couple if to do so would be contrary to their religious beliefs. The proposed amendments would have undermined established New Zealand anti-discrimination legislation. The proposed amendments were voted on and defeated.
The Bill has now been passed back to the House unamended. It now only needs to be passed at its third and final reading to become law (for full details on how laws are made in NZ, click here).
The third and final reading is likely to happen April 17th 2013.
Obviously everyone is thrilled that the Bill has passed this crucial stage of the legislative process and we’re very much looking forward to gay New Zealanders soon having the same rights as their heterosexual compatriots.
However, now is not the time for complacency, as the Bill has not yet become law. People who want to see marriage equality become a reality in New Zealand have an opportunity over the next few weeks to let their MP know how important marriage equality is to them. Get involved, click here to link back to find out how you can personally help the cause for marriage equality in New Zealand.