Australian marriage equality advocates say the achievement of marriage equality in New Zealand this evening will be a game changer in Australia.
Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Rodney Croome, said,
"The majority of Australians who support marriage equality will be happy for New Zealand but deeply embarrassing their own country is lagging so far behind."
"This will be a game changer in Australia because of the close links between our two countries."
"New Zealand shows how reform can be achieved when national leaders put politics aside and work together, unlike Australia's leaders who are still playing politics with marriage equality."
"In particular, Coalition leader, Tony Abbott, has a lesson to learn from New Zealand's conservative Prime Minister, John Key, who allowed his party a conscience vote, in contrast to Abbott's Coalition which does not let its members vote for this reform."
"As same-sex couples begin to marry, New Zealand will also show those Australians who are still conflicted about marriage equality that they have nothing to fear."
Mr Croome said over 1000 Australian couples have indicated to Australian Marriage Equality they intend to marry in New Zealand as soon as possible, through a survey on AME's website.
"With marriage equality now just three hours away by plane, those Australian same-sex couples who are tired of waiting will marry in New Zealand instead."
"Sadly, the moment they walk back through Australian customs their solemn vows of life-long commitment will count for nothing and they will be considered legal strangers by their own government."
"It is estimated that Australian same-sex couples would spend $700 million on their weddings if they were allowed to marry, but now New Zealand will get a significant slice of money that should be spent here."
Marriage equality legislation was defeated in the Australian Parliament in August last year. The ruling Labor Party has a conscience vote, but not the opposition conservative Coalition. Both the Labor prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, oppose marriage equality.
Legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry has been introduced in several Australia states and is expected to be debated in at least some states later this year.
Media conference to discuss the NZ vote
When: 11am, Thursday April 17th
Where: 4 Treasury Place, Melbourne
Who: Rodney Croome, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, and Lee Haukendaul and Kerryn Benefield, a same-sex couple planning their wedding in NZ
A briefing paper on the impact on Australia of marriage equality in New Zealand is included below.
For more information contact Rodney Croome on 0409 010 668.
On the evening of Wednesday April 17th the New Zealand Parliament held the final vote on a bill to allow same-sex marriages. The Bill passed. What follows are briefing notes for the media on the implications for Australia. For more information contact Rodney Croome on 0409 010 668.
Will Australians marry in New Zealand?
-Yes. There is no residency requirement in the New Zealand Marriage Act so Australian same-sex couples will be free to marry there.
-Australian Marriage Equality has conducted a survey since Friday asking Australian couples if they will marry in New Zealand. 1000 have so far said "yes".
How has New Zealand achieved this first?
-Public support for marriage equality is the same in New Zealand as it is in Australia, 60-65%.
-The difference is that marriage equality has the support of the leaders of New Zealand's major parties, including National Party Prime Minister, John Key, and Opposition Labour leader, David Shearer (see quotes below)
-New Zealand has had a civil union scheme since 2005, but it is little different to the equivalent state schemes that have prevailed in Australia since 2004.
How will this affect Australia?
-The world's attention will be on New Zealand's achievement, and Australia's corresponding failure. This will diminish Australia in the eyes of the world.
-Australia will lose a proportion of the estimated $700 million same-sex couples plan to spend on their weddings, as these couples spend their money in New Zealand instead.
What have New Zealand's leaders said about marriage equality?
-"My view has been that if two gay people want to get married then I can't see why it would undermine my marriage."John Key, 30.7.12
-"I think it's the reality of our times. It just effectively puts in place what's already in existence."David Shearer, 26.7.12
What other countries have marriage equality:
-Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa and Sweden (pending in France, Uruguay and New Zealand, passed by the House of Commons in the UK).
-States and provinces include Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, and several states in Brazil and Mexico
-The Australian states where same-sex marriage laws have been proposed are Tasmania, NSW, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia.
New Zealand Passes Marriage for Same-Sex Couples
From a Freedom to Marry press release
New York — Today the New Zealand Parliament passed the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in its third and final vote of a marriage bill. The bill was sponsored by Labour MP Louisa Wall and passed its second reading on March 13, with nearly all party leaders in support.
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, released the following statement:
"Following last week's vote for marriage in Uruguay, New Zealand today became the 16th country where same-sex couples can now share in the freedom to marry — and grew the number of freedom to marry continents to five," said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. "With France poised to embrace the freedom to marry within the month, and England and others likely to move to marriage this year, the global momentum for the freedom to marry is undeniable. The momentum is there because the more people have talked about gay people and why marriage matters, the more it's become clear there is no good reason to continue the exclusion from marriage. It's time for decision-makers in the United States to end the denial of marriage, do right by all families, and uphold our own American commitment to liberty and justice for all."
The first weddings for same-sex couples are expected to begin in mid-August, four months after the Governor-General signs the bill into law. With the law's passage, New Zealand will become the 16th country in the world to provide nationwide or regional recognition for married same-sex couples.
Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.