Wanganui's marriage celebrants say local gay couples are not rushing to tie the knot despite a bill allowing same-sex marriage passing through Parliament.
On Wednesday night, Labour MP Louisa Wall's Marriage Amendment Bill was passed by 77 votes to 44, making same-sex marriage legal. New Zealand is the 13th country to legalise same-sex marriage.
The Chronicle spoke to about half of Wanganui's marriage celebrants. Celebrant Denise Gordon said she had received one inquiry about officiating at a same-sex wedding. All other celebrants said they'd had no inquiries from gay couples.
Celebrant Carol Watt said she had performed two civil union ceremonies this year, including one last weekend. "So they obviously weren't waiting for the same-sex marriage bill to pass."
Although the Marriage Amendment Bill has now been passed, it won't become legal until some time in August. Celebrant Michael MacManus said that would give the Department of Internal Affairs time to organise changes to things like marriage certificates and software programmes, and also to bring marriage celebrants up to speed with the law change.
"No one from Internal Affairs has spoken to us about how things will change under the new law, but it is very early days," Mr MacManus said.
He said at present a marriage celebrant cannot perform civil unions without a special licence. "I assume that once the new law comes in, marriage will be marriage, no matter whether it's a straight or gay couple. But that's the sort of thing we'll need to sort out before August," he said.