Parliament has voted to make same-sex marriage legal.
MPs and those in the public gallery broke into applause and cheered as it was announced the vote passed with 77 votes to 44.
They then broke into song. After a two-hour debate, MPs were able to have their say on the Marriage Equality Bill, sponsored by Labour MP Louisa Wall.
MPs from both sides of the House lined up to hug the bill’s sponsor, Louisa Wall.
She, National MP Tau Henare and Green MP Kevin Hague were presented with flowers.
Those opposed to the bill quietly left the public gallery.
There were smiles all round, and more than a few tears as well as shouts of “bravo” from the public.
Speaker David Carter closed Parliament and the MPs made their way out of the chamber.
Druing the two hour debate before the vote, many members had to share their speaking slots with others, so most could have their say.
Among the highlights was Green MP Mojo Mathers, who received a rousing applause, after she told the house how her daughter went to her first formal with her girlfriend last year.
“Like countless other young woman she hopes for love, marriage, children and a house with a white picket fence.
“All of those options are available to her older sister.
“To see them have equal rights before the law is very important to me.”
Whanganui MP Chester Borrows caused a brief flurry of excitement after saying he was for equality.
However, he later clarified that he was still voting against the bill.
But he said he had become more open to gay couples since becoming an MP.
Star of the second reading National MP Chris Auchinvole reaffirmed his view that the bill should be passed.
He asked the younger generation show patience and consideration for those of his own generation to adjust to change “that will be very very new to us.”
National MP Jonathan Young said he expected the vote to pass despite his voting against it.
“I believe our society is probably more divided than this House is on this issue.”
Everybody wanted to celebrate their relationship, he said.
The debate was not about love because love could not be legislated against, he said.
“The human heart was to random and too romantic for that.
“Essentially the value of society that this marriage upholds is that you become my one and only.”
Several people in the public gallery clapped loudly for him, including a couple who had been holding their hands up in prayer throughout the debate.
Labour MP Maryan Street said her job “rocked” because she could be here today to “do some good”.
Street said her own daughter was born to two mothers and two fathers.
“She deserves a world where her family is as accepted as anybody else’s.”
On the other side of the house, though on the same side of the debate, National MP Maurice Williamson said years in Parliament taught him to ignore the fire and brimstone accusations.
“We are really struggling to understand what the ‘gay onslaught’ will look like’.”
All this bill did was allow to people who loved each other to have that recognised, he said.
“And I can’t see what’s wrong with that for love nor money.”
ACT Party leader John Banks said all New Zealanders should be free to pursue their own happiness.
“In making this decision I had to ask myself, will New Zealanders have more freedom as a result of this bill? Yes.”
Maori Party Whip Te Ururoa Flavell ran out of time, but recounted a Maori legend of a relationship between two men from Maori folklore.
Too many young people were living in fear of discrimination, he said.
Opponents of the gay marriage bill had become increasingly unreasonable as the debate wore on, Green MP Kevin Hague told Parliament tonight.
During the final debate on the Marriage Amendment Bill, Hague, a staunch supporter of the bill, recalled that when he got together with his partner, nearly 29 years ago, it was illegal for them to have sex or show affection.
“With every new reform the same group uses the same strategy, raising fears of terrible consequences, which always fail to materialise.”
But their fears will not be realised, Hague said.
“The consequences of this Bill will be that same sex couples will marry, transgendered people will no longer have to divorce, prejudice and violence will be undermined, the world will be a better place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered New Zealanders and no one at all will be any worse off.”
Youth Affairs Minister Nikki Kaye said it was time for this legislation to pass.
NZ First leader Winston Peters gave the first speech of the evening opposing gay marriage.
Peters said there had been a year-long debate on gay marriage and no one was any the wiser. His party is voting against the bill because they wanted a referendum to decide on the matter.
“Some claim there is a huge ground swell for change, well is that so, and if so, how do we know that it’s true?
“The question is what do the public think?
“Don’t say you weren’t warned.”
National backbencher Tau Henare was met with rousing applause when he started in criticising Peters.
“Who decides if it should be a referendum or not? Him? I hope not Mr Speaker. Because we’d still be in the 1980s.
“My message to [same-sex couples] is welcome to the mainstream.”
But It was Labour MP Louisa Wall, sponsor of the bill, who kick started the debate with an emotional plea, who earned the standing ovation.
“In our society the meaning of marriage is universal – it’s a declaration of love and commitment to a special person,” Wall told Parliament.
Marriage had been used a form of oppression through the refusal of interracial weddings, and by removing a woman’s rights, she said.
“This is not about Church teachings or philosophy. It never has been.
“It’s about the State excluding people from the institution of marriage because of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.”
SUPPORTERS A PART OF HISTORY
Wellington’s gay community was out on the town and ready to celebrate as the debate on gay marriage got underway.
In the city centre, Scotty & Mal’s Cocktail & Lounge Bar is packed.
Patrons are sitting transfixed to the debate, which is being screened live on Parliamentary TV.
Cheers rang out as politicians began to speak in favour of the bill to legalise same-sex marriage.
On Cuba St, Brodie Packer, 17, says it is a powerful moment
“I’m here so I can tell my grandkids. It’s sort of like correcting something that was wrong with the law. It’s a good day to be gay.”’
Drew Hadwen, 43, of Newtown said ”today’s a great day for equality, it’s about time.”
”Damn straight this needed to happen. It’s a good day to be a New Zealander.”
Across Cuba St at the San Francisco Bath House, where a banner for the New Zealand Campaign for Marriage Equality flew, the mood was more sombre but no less celebratory as people watched the MPs and waited to party following the passing of the bill.
A sense of being part of history permeated the air as people sat on the floor and lined the bar to watch gay MP Kevin Hague deliver his impassioned emotional speech.
Newtown couple of five years Roman Judd and Barrie Walker said attitudes in New Zealand had changed, particularly over the past decade.
They were confident the bill would pass and said the new legislation would give them the option to marry should they decide to do so in the future.
”It just means we have the same rights as everyone else – it’s quite a big thing,” Mr Judd said.
”I think New Zealand’s ready to change – we’ve had so much support from our straight friends and family,” Mr Walker said.
In Christchurch, a large crowd has tonight braved cold conditions at Pegasus Arms Tavern to celebrate the final reading of the Marriage Amendment Bill at the Love is Love concert.
Rain forced the concert, headlined by Christchurch musician Anika Moa, to be moved from the outdoor Pallet Pavilion but has not dampened spirits.
Moa, who came out as a lesbian in 2007 and has been in a civil union with Australian burlesque dancer Azaria Universe since 2010, told ifThe Press nf
she was ”proud to be part of this historic event”.
She had ”every amount of faith” the Bill would pass.
”I think great it’s happening. I’m in a civil union and I consider myself married anyway, but a lot of people want to be married properly,” Moa said.
Supporters of the bill also headed to Parliament tonight, hoping to witness history.
Hundreds packed into Parliament’s public gallery as the debate began.
Jo Morrison said they arrived early to make sure they would get a seat in the public gallery.
“This is a big night.”
Kura Barrett said she had attended the last three debates on the gay marriage legislation and wanted to follow it through.
She was looking forward to the speech of Labour MP Louisa Wall, who put forward the bill, and “that National guy who spoke so eloquently the last time” Chris Auchinvole.
The result is expected about 9.30 tonight.
Meanwhile, Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain today reiterated marriage certificates would continue to give people the option of calling themselves bride and bride groom.
A draft of the proposed new marriage forms would also allow people to tick a third option, partner.