New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, has said he will support a member’s bill selected for a vote in the House of Representatives that would legalise marriages between two people of the same sex.
Labour MP Louisa Wall had submitted a member’s bill which would allow gay couples to marry and trans people to avoid divorcing their spouses before having their gender legally recognised.
Ms Wall’s bill was pulled out of a parliamentary ballot on Thursday of last week and should be voted on this year.
Prime Minister John Key told RadioLive NZ this morning he still had no objection to the idea of gay marriages.
He said: “My view has been that if two gay people want to get married then I can’t see why it would undermine my marriage to Bronagh.
“There will be plenty of people in our caucus who will be deeply opposed – particularly the very religious ones, and I can understand that.”
Now the member’s bill has been drawn, Mr Key said he would allow a conscience vote on the issue.
He added: “We first need to go and have the debates, I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it. I’m going to give myself a little bit of room.”
Controlling 59 of the 120 seats at the House of Representatives, Mr Key’s centre-right National Party is expected to have a diverse range of voting intentions. News.com.au indicates that 14 Green MPs have committed their support and most of the 34 Labour MPs should back a change in the law too.
A poll in 2011 reported by the New Zealand Herald had found 60 per cent in favour of equal marriage rights for gay and straight couples and 34 per cent opposed.
Support for such a measure rose to 79 percent among those aged 18 to 34.
An anti-equal marriage petition website, Protectmarriage.org.nz, was removed by its hosting service this morning citing ‘Denial of Service’ attacks.
The organisations Family First, the National Marriage Coalition, Family Life and Focus on the Family had launched the website to oppose the bill’s intention with a petition to “support the definition of marriage being maintained as one man one woman”, 3 News reported.
127 signatures, of which a number were joke names including Tobias Fünke, a character from the TV series Arrested Development, and an individual called ‘Nosy, Homophobic People Intruding on others lives’, had been entered before the site was taken down.
Before the site was taken down, American band Train were alerted to the fact that one of their songs was being used on the website and said on Twitter they would be acting to have the music removed.
A page identifying itself as Protect Marriage on Facebook publicly thanked hackers for the publicity and said the website would be “back up by brekky”. The page has 274 fans and this morning all comments on the announcement were negative.