Gay law could mean big money

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Big money could be injected into the Bay economy after the law change to allow same-sex couples to marry.

More than $250 million was pumped into New York City's economy in the first 12 months after gay marriage was legalised and Bay celebrants and wedding venues could tap into this market, local wedding industry experts say.

Celebrant Carol Rickard supported the Marriage Amendment Bill, which passed in Parliament on Wednesday night with 77 votes in favour and 44 against.

"I think it's great. To me love is love and I have taken a number of same-sex marriages since the Civil Union law was passed [in April 2005] and each time I've come away from a ceremony thinking how can this be morally wrong when two people love each other."

She said the spin-off from the law change could benefit the wedding industry and provide a boost to local tourism.

"From a business perspective, it's a good thing because Tauranga is very beautiful and a popular place to get married, and there are plenty of other lovely places around New Zealand where same sex couples can use to get married."

A spokesperson for popular wedding venue Mills Reef Winery and Restaurant agreed the law change was good for business.

Bridget Little, of Ataahua Garden Venue in Pyes Pa, agreed.

Matua celebrant Michelle Muir said everyone should have the right to declare their love for one another and have it recognised.

"It's great for the couples and it's great for the industry."

"I haven't been registered [to perform Civil Union ceremonies] but I will absolutely do a same-sex marriage."

Since same-sex marriage was legalised in New York in June 2011, the city reaped $259 million worth of economic benefits in the first 12 months, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has told American media.

Between June 2011 and June 2012, 8200 gay-marriage licences were issued, which accounted for more than 10 per cent of the 75,000 wedding licences issued in New York City.

About 1000 same sex couples from Australia have registered their interest to get married in New Zealand, the national director of Australian Marriage Equality Rodney Croome told The Sydney Morning Herald.

But the marriages would still not be recognised under Australian law.

"Now that marriage equality is only three hours away, there will be a flood of couples flying to New Zealand."

The economic benefits could also flow on to the accommodation sector, said Tauranga Motel Association member Tony Burrell of Roselands Motel.

"To give everyone equal rights is positive and it shows New Zealand is a place that gives everyone equality."

Marriage celebrant Aaron Bloomfield said it was sad for people to be "cashing in" on the pink dollar and said the law change was more about encouraging equal rights.

New Zealand is the 13th country in the world to embrace marriage equality, with Uruguay taking the 12th spot just last week. - with APN

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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