Gay couples rush to name the day

By Amelia Wade

Celebrants already have marriage bookings for gay couples who were confident it would become legal.

MPs voted 77-44 on Wednesday night to pass the Marriage Amendment Bill allowing same-sex and transgender couples to marry.

In June last year, Daina Johnson proposed to her girlfriend, Shaan Hames. At the time, the Marriage Amendment Bill hadn't been pulled from the private member's ballot.

"I just loved my partner so I wanted to marry her," she said.

"It was after I proposed that it all started going through Parliament, so it was all very convenient."

They had thought about getting a civil union, but decided to wait to tie the knot until marriage was legal in New Zealand. On Wednesday night, surrounded by friends at Caluzzi's in Karangahape Rd, they watched their dream become a reality.

One of the main reasons they wanted to get married was so they could put both their names on their future children's birth certificates.

"We were so pleased it was passed ... it was a big party," she said.

Ms Johnson and Ms Hames are yet to set a date and talk to their families, but are planning to get married in the middle of next year.

Auckland celebrant Sarah Bloxham has had two same-sex marriages on her books since before the bill was passed.

A lesbian couple are planning their wedding in November, she said.

"So instead of waiting for it, they went ahead and started planning. Everyone knew it was going to happen."

And on Tuesday night, Ms Bloxham got a call from an Aucklander living in Sydney who wants to have a wedding on Waiheke in January.

Another Auckland celebrant, Erin Marmont, is also planning a ceremony for a same-sex couple.

Her friends had been planning to get a civil union at the start of next year, but will now get married instead.

The wedding is set to be the first same-sex marriage for Ms Marmont, who has done "plenty" of civil unions since they became possible in 2004.

And civil union celebrant Robin Gee is looking forward to applying to be a marriage celebrant. He has held off until now because he only wanted to marry couples when everyone had the same rights.

Mr Gee, who joined two men in a civil union at the weekend, has two more on the books - a female couple from Asia and another female couple from Australia who want to legally recognise their relationships.

Both couples are planning civil unions but might decide to marry instead.

• In eight months of debate on gay marriage, one parliamentary seat in particular has been conspicuously empty - Prime Minister John Key's.

Mr Key was unable to attend any of the debates on the bill, and cast a proxy vote at all three readings.

When the historic final votes were cast on Wednesday night, he was unable to attend or watch on television because he was in a series of meetings, a spokeswoman said.

For the first reading, Mr Key was in Rarotonga at the Pacific Islands Forum.

For the second, he was in Brazil as part of a trade tour of South America.

How world media saw it

The Daily Telegraph (Britain)

The paper's assistant comment editor, Tom Chivers, posted a link of the waiata after the bill was passed and said:

"Good old New Zealand. They get everything right. Universal suffrage, The Lord of the Rings, and now this. Plus their House of Commons speaker sounds exactly like Murray out of Flight of the Conchords. The song is called Pokarekare Ana, and it's apparently a Maori love song."

The Huffington Post

"The world can be a dark and scary place sometimes, but this video of spectators bursting into song after New Zealand legalised gay marriage has restored our faith in humanity (at least for today)."

The site also linked the moment the votes were announced, which has been watched more than 177,000 times on YouTube.

"We challenge you to watch, and not tear up. Go on, try," the article said. The top comment on the video is: "Dear New Zealanders, We think you're fricking awesome. Signed, the whole world."

News.com.au

The Australian news site led the news that the bill had passed with the headline: "The Kiwis show us how it's done." It said: "Welcome to New Zealand, where gay marriage is now legal. Parliament voted in favour of the change last night [Wednesday] begging the question, when will it happen in Australia?" The site also commended Maurice Williamson on his "humorous yet thoughtful speech about the ludicrous ideas why not to support gay marriage and the logical reasons why you should". The site said Mr Williams concluded his speech with some of the most "powerful words spoken in favour of marriage equality".

Reuters India

The news agency led the story with the headline: "Cheers, applause as New Zealand legalises same-sex marriage," and had comments from a gay man who can now marry his boyfriend.

Read more: Rainbow ruling lures pot of Aussie gold

- NZ Herald

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