Rainbow ruling lures pot of Aussie gold

By Greg Ansley

Gay couples in Australia are likely to travel to New Zealand to wed. Photo / Getty Images
Gay couples in Australia are likely to travel to New Zealand to wed. Photo / Getty Images

Australian gay and lesbian couples are already lining up to marry in New Zealand, with marriage equality advocates estimating the transtasman ceremonies will pump tens of millions of dollars into the economy.

Parliament's legalisation of same-sex marriages has also thrust the issue back on to the Australian political agenda ahead of the September 14 election, despite opposition from Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Coalition leader Tony Abbott.

Lobby group Australian Marriage Equality intends using the New Zealand reforms to push same-sex marriage to the centre of the election campaign in a bid to force Mr Abbott to allow Opposition MPs a conscience vote and to shore up Labor support.

The Greens, who already have same-sex marriage bills before the federal parliament, will now introduce a separate bill recognising gay and lesbian marriages conducted overseas.

Marriage Equality spokesman Rodney Croome said a survey on the organisation's website indicated that more than 1000 Australian gay and lesbian couples planned to marry in New Zealand.

"It is estimated that Australian same-sex couples would spend A$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."

Couples already have publicly declared their intention to marry across the Tasman.

Expatriate New Zealand lesbians Lee Haukendahl and Kerryn Benefield said they would wed on September 21.

Emma Mansell said she would also marry her partner in New Zealand after a ceremony in Sydney.

Mr Croome said he expected a flood of others to follow, with Australian politicians unlikely to change their minds on the issue in the near future.

While federal laws give gay and lesbian de facto couples the same rights as heterosexual couples in superannuation, social security, health, aged care, taxation and employment, successive efforts to legalise same-sex marriages have failed.

Labor policy supports same-sex marriage and allows MPs a conscience vote, but Ms Gillard and other prominent MPs oppose the move.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said her party's bill would legalise marriages performed in New Zealand.

"The sad thing is when they arrive back home, they are no longer going to be recognised," she said.

Read more: Gay couples rush to name the day

- NZ Herald

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