Lawmakers in New Zealand are expected
on Wednesday to give final approval to a bill legalizing gay
Big crowds are expected to be on hand
to witness Labour MP Louisa Wall's marriage equality member's bill
receive its third reading in Parliament.
The measure received overwhelming
approval at its committee stages last month. Wednesday's final vote
is considered a formality. Bills are rarely rejected at this stage.
Wall, who is openly gay, has previously
said U.S. President Barack Obama's endorsement of marriage equality
gave momentum to the bill.
“Marriage belongs to society as a
whole, and that requires the involvement of the whole of society,”
Wall told colleagues before last month's crucial vote. “The role
of the state in marriage is to issue a license to two people who love
each other and want to commit to one another formally. That's what
this bill does.”
Family First, a conservative group
opposed to the proposed legislation, has threatened to oust any MP
who votes for the bill.
“The definition of marriage should
stay as traditionally and commonly conceived – not one manipulated
by politics and political correctness,” said
Bob McCoskrie, a spokesman for Family First.
The measure won't go into effect until
after it receives Royal Assent from the Governor General, Lt. Gen.
Sir Jerry Mateparae, Queen Elizabeth II's representative in New
If the bill is approved, it is expected
to take effect in August.
New Zealand currently recognizes gay
and lesbian couples with civil unions.