By 3 News online staff
Last night saw Labour MP Louisa Wall’s same-sex marriage bill pass its first reading in Parliament, with two thirds of MPs voting in favour.
Ms Wall received a rousing applause after her speech to a near-full House, where she said her bill is underpinned by love and fairness of opportunity.
The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, if it becomes law, will allow two people to marry regardless of sexual orientation and gender.
It will also allow same-sex couples to adopt children.
Ms Wall said marriage predates both Government and Christianity and has changed dramatically over time.
“Same-sex marriage between men was not uncommon in the days of the Roman emperor Nero and the Catholic Church originally saw marriage as tainted but they adopted and adapted it,” she said.
Marriage is a Government institution irrespective of religious affiliation, she said, and should be about all citizens being equal under the law.
She also put to bed some allegations that her bill would force churches to marry people they didn’t want to.
“This does not require any person or church to carry out a marriage if it does not fit within the beliefs of the celebrant or the religious interpretation a church has.”
“Today is the time to open the institution of marriage to all those eligible,” said Ms Wall.
The bill has been sent to a select committee before it is returned to the House for its second reading.