Family First survey shows turnaround in level of approval for same-sex couples marrying.

The Family First lobby group has published a poll which finally concedes what all other polls in the past year have shown - that more New Zealanders now support gay marriage than oppose it.

The poll of 1000 people by blogger David Farrar's Curia Research has found 47 per cent think same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, against 43 per cent who think "civil unions are sufficient for same-sex couples".

It comes as a select committee is due to report back to Parliament this Thursday on Labour MP Louisa Wall's bill that would define marriage as "the union of two people regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity".

The committee is expected to recommend amending the bill to clarify that celebrants in churches or other religious bodies would not have to marry gay couples if they believe it is wrong.


But human rights law, which bans discrimination on sexual orientation, would apply to individual marriage celebrants who are not part of religious organisations.

The Family First poll found 80 per cent of New Zealanders are against making all marriage celebrants perform gay marriages.

But it found a surprisingly high 37 per cent who agree teachers in state schools should "be forced to teach their students that same-sex marriage is equal to traditional marriage" even if this is against their personal beliefs.

Only 53 per cent believe teachers should not be forced to teach that all marriages are equal.

The last Family First/Curia poll on the issue in March 2011, asked: "The law currently defines marriage as only being allowable between a man and a woman. Do you support this?" At that time, 52 per cent said yes and only 42 per cent said no.

MPs are due to debate the bill's second reading on March 13. Ms Wall said if it had support, it was likely to become law in April. "It will be quite a quick process from here on."