19 Aug 2013

First same-sex couples marry

6:46 pm on 19 August 2013

The first same-sex weddings have taken place around the country.

It became legal on Monday for same-sex couples to marry, making New Zealand the first country in the Asia-Pacific region, and the 13th in the world, to enshrine marriage equality in law.

Some 31 same-sex marriages are expected to take place on Monday in Auckland, Manukau, Wellington, Christchurch and Rotorua.

The Labour MP who introduced the Marriage Amendment Bill to Parliament says her dream has become a reality.

Manurewa MP Louisa Wall attended one of the first same sex weddings and says it's an exciting day.

Ms Wall says she hopes other countires, where same sex marriage is still illegal, will follow in New Zealand's foot steps.

Paul McCarthy and Trent Kandler were among the first same-sex couples to wed.

Paul McCarthy and Trent Kandler were among the first same-sex couples to wed. Photo: RNZ

Paul McCarthy and Trent Kandler won a tourism New Zealand competition to be the first same-sex Australian couple to get married in New Zealand; they tied the knot at Te Papa in Wellington.

The men have been together for 11 years and say they have been waiting a long time to get married.

"We're validated, our relationship is validated in front of our family and friends. I'm a very proud man," says Mr McCarthy.

Wellington wedding venue Boomrock says it had an influx of enquiries when the bill passed in April.

General manager Justine Mitchell says it has three confirmed bookings for same-sex weddings and expects that number to rise.

Labour Party MP Louisa Wall, who introduced the Marriage Amendment Bill to parliament, says the day is one of celebration for equality.

Campaign for Marriage Equality spokesperson Conrad Reyners told Morning Report it is pleasing to see that many New Zealanders are not fazed by the law change because they believe everyone has the same rights.

The Presbyterian and Anglican churches are considering their position on marrying same-sex couples, while the Catholic church won't marry gay couples and is not reviewing its stance.

The Australian Marriage Equality lobby group says about 1,000 Australian couples have indicated they plan to travel to New Zealand to marry.

The Department of Internal Affairs says almost 1,000 marriage forms were downloaded from its website last week, three times the usual amount.