All eight political parties’ youth wings have made a joint statement in support of same-sex marriage at Parliament this morning.
The cross-party support came ahead of the second reading of a bill to legalise gay and transgender marriage on Wednesday.
All youth representatives said their memberships overwhelmingly supported a change to marriage laws, though New Zealand First’s youth wing echoed its MPs in calling for a national referendum on the issue.
Young National’s vice president Shaun Wallis (pictured) said the bill represented two fundamental principles of the party – freedom and equal opportunity for all New Zealanders.
He said Young Nats had the biggest task out of any youth wing in convincing its MPs to pledge or maintain support for the bill.
Half of the National caucus supported the legislation at the first reading, and half opposed.
Young Greens spokeswoman Izzy Lomax said the unified youth support showed that gay and transgender marriage was something all that young people wanted in New Zealand.
She said her organisation supported the bill because it ended institutional discrimination against people from rainbow communities.
New Zealand First Youth spokesman Curwen Rolinson said there was a large, but not unanimous proportion of his group who would vote in support of the bill.
But he felt that it was important that such a progressive change came with the direct backing of the population, and he called for a referendum.
New Zealand First MPs voted against the bill at first reading.