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New Zealand marriage-equality bill easily passes in first reading

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Parliament on Wednesday, Aug. 29, passed the first reading of a bill that will make it legal for couples of the same sex to marry.

Eighty MPs voted for the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill and 40 voted against it.

Labour Party MP Louisa Wall is sponsoring the bill.

She said in Parliament she was proud to sponsor the bill which seeks define marriage between two people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation of gender identity.

She assured Parliament that if her bill became law it would not oblige a minister or celebrant to conduct marriage for gay couples.

"That is the situation now, and nothing will change. And because we have freedom of religion in New Zealand no religious body is bound to marry a couple if that marriage is at odds with their religion's belief.''

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