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Youth parties sign marriage equality pledge

Monday 11 Mar 2013 11:49 a.m.

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The youth wings of every party in Parliament are pushing their support for marriage equality - even young members of NZ First, which is voting against the legislation.

The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill returns to Parliament for its second reading on Wednesday, and it's expected to pass by a wide margin - although it's not yet clear how the votes might change from its first reading last year.

This morning, youth representatives from National, Labour, the Greens, NZ First, ACT and Mana united outside Parliament in a show of support for the legislation.

A representative from United Future had also planned to attend, but fog at Wellington Airport meant their flight had to be diverted.

The cross-party support from youth wings was unprecedented, Campaign for Marriage Equality spokesman Conrad Reyners said.

It echoed the widespread support for the bill among young New Zealanders.

"It's pretty clear that the youth of New Zealand support fairness, they support love, they support anti-discrimination and they want to see equal treatment of all New Zealanders in New Zealand's law," Mr Reyners said.

The National Party's caucus was split down the middle at the legislation's first vote, and the Young Nats have been putting pressure on MPs to support the bill, vice-president Shaun Wallis says.

"Out of all the parties, Young Nats has had the biggest task, not only to convince our MPs, but to maintain that support."

NZ First's eight MPs - now seven after Brendan Horan became an independent MP - are voting against the legislation, saying they want a referendum on the issue.

NZ First Youth spokesman Curwen Rolinson says while the youth wing supports the call for a referendum, it is in favour of the legislation.

"There is a large and vocal [component] of NZ First Youth's membership, of which I am a proud member, which believes that marriage equality - and a `yes' vote in that referendum - is something which is strongly desirable."

ACT on Campus last year put strong pressure on its sole MP John Banks - a conservative former National MP who voted against Homosexual Law Reform in the 1980s - to support the legislation, and secured his vote.


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