By 3 News online staff / NZN
A New Zealand anti-gay marriage petition and website has been launched as debate over the issue heats up.
Protectmarriage.org.nz asks visitors to the site to sign a petition if they "support the definition of marriage being maintained as one man one woman" and oppose any attempt to redefine this.
The website appears to have been created jointly by Family First, the National Marriage Coalition, Family Life and Focus on the Family.
This morning the petition had 127 signatures, though several are obviously fake. Among the names listed are rappers Marshall Mathers (Eminem) and Curtis Jackson (50 Cent), Tobias Fünke (a sexually-confused character from TV show Arrested Development) and "Nosy, Homophobic People Intruding on others lives".
The site offers resources and information about marriage including The Argument for Preserving Marriage in a Nutshell and 21 Reasons Why Marriage Matters.
This comes after Labour MP Louisa Wall's marriage equality bill was pulled from Parliament's ballot, with its first reading expected within weeks.
It's not yet clear whether the bill will have the numbers to pass its first reading, with many MPs saying they're yet to make up their minds on how they'll cast their conscience vote.
The Catholic Diocese of Auckland is opposed to the bill, and wants MPs to "keep marriage as defined as between a man and a woman", as civil unions are available to gay couples.
Family First director Bob McCoskrie says equality doesn't mean that gay people should have the right to get married.
"Same-sex couples have the option of civil unions to recognise their relationship so there is no need for redefining marriage," he says.
"If the law was redefined to allow same-sex marriage, and only same-sex marriage, we would then be discriminating against those seeking, for example, polygamous, polyamorous, or adult incest unions."
Mr McCoskrie says nature "discriminates" against same-sex couples, and marriage should reflect this.
"Only a man and a woman can produce children. This discloses something of the purposes and providence of nature, and the role and purpose of marriage."
But pro-gay marriage group LegaliseLove says marriage isn't always about procreation.
"New Zealanders marry each other for a wide variety of social, spiritual, cultural and personal reasons, and many couples who get married are in fact unable to have children," says president Andrew Cunningham.
"This is a matter of ensuring everyone is granted equal rights under the law. This is a human rights issue."
Conservative Party leader Colin Craig failed to make it into Parliament at last year's election, but he's not shying away from the debate, on Thursday tweeting: "It's just not intelligent to pretend that homosexual relationships are normal".
Mr Craig also told 3 News that being gay is a choice, and he himself could turn gay.
"Sure I could… if I wanted to," Mr Craig said last week.
The bill is likely to also enable gay couples to adopt, which Mr Craig also opposes.
Wellington church St Andrews on The Terrace is in favour of the bill. Reverend Margaret Mayman says the church is delighted the bill has been drawn, and hopes it will become law.
She says it is likely St Andrews will make a submission supporting the bill, if it is sent to a select committee, as it did on civil unions.