Things are moving on the marriage equality front in New Zealand now, as word comes that a Parliamentary Select Committee has approved the same sex marriage bill there. The New Zealand Herald reports:
The Government Administration Committee said the private member’s bill should progress, but with an amendment to make it clear that no minister was obliged to marry someone against their own beliefs. The committee report said: “The bill seeks to extend the legal right to marry to same-sex couples; it does not seek to interfere with people’s religious freedoms.”
The committee also received public input:
The committee received 21,533 submissions on the bill, 2898 of which had unique content. Of the submissions, 10,487 were in favour and 8148 against. The committee acknowledged that New Zealanders held “sincere and strong beliefs” about the importance of marriage. “The passion with which submitters made their arguments to us was palpable.”
So what happens next?
The bill’s second reading will be held on March 13. The legislation passed its first reading by 80 votes to 40.
Just this week, a new poll showed a plurality of New Zealand voters supported marriage equality.