The big day has finally come for New Zealand's gay couples as they race to become one of the first ones to marry their partners since the marriage equality law took effect on Aug 19. Many gay couples in New Zealand are waiting for their turn to marry since the legalisation of same sex marriage in the country.
Almost 1,000 marriage forms were downloaded from the government Web site as gay couples scramble for a spot in one of the 31 wedding ceremonies to be held on the first day of New Zealand's observance of marriage equality laws.
Two Kiwi couples in New Zealand married in joint ceremony. (Image Credit: Alan Gibson)
One of the first gay couples to be married in New Zealand received a warm welcome at the Unitarian Church in Prisonby. At 8:15 am, a large crowd had gathered outside the church to welcome 37-year-old Tas Vitali and 29-year-old Mel Ray.
Reverend Dr Matt Tittle said it was an honour to be part of a historic day in New Zealand. As he prepared to conduct the wedding ceremony, he said it was history in the making. He also hope other countries will follow New Zealand and realise everyone has the right to love and marriage.
While Ms Ray and Ms Vitali waited for the ceremony to proceed, Labor MP Louisa Wall read the poem, Touched By An Angel by Maya Angelou. Ms Wall was responsible for the bill that pushed the legalisation of same-sex marriage in New Zealand.
In another venue, two gay couples were being married in the foyer of Rotorua Museum. Bay of Islands couple Rachel Briscoe and Jess Ivess arrived in a white limousine along with another couple from Christchurch Richard Rawstorn and Richard Andrew.
Meanwhile, in Auckland, only a few people arrived to get their marriage licences at the Department of Internal Affairs. Australian gay couples also arrived in New Zealand to officially marry since it is not yet legal for same-sex couples to wed in the country. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has promised to push a bill legalising same-sex marriage should he win in the Sept 7 federal elections.
Gay couples from New Zealand's capital cities and towns like Auckland, Christchurch, Manukau and Rotorua filled 31 notice-of-intended-marriage forms at Births, Deaths and Marriages register. The government revealed 977 marriage forms from its Web site since last week.
Marriage equality view split
Some churches are divided on the issue of the legalisation of same-sex marriage. The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference was one of the religious groups strongly opposed to the law.
Family First's Bob McCroskie said that the government has made "an arrogant act of cultural vandalism" by pushing the marriage equality bill.
Despite facing religious opposition, it's still a great day to be gay in New Zealand as three Kiwi singers show their support for same-sex marriage with a new song. Boh Runga, Anika Moa and Hollie Smith have recently released their single with the title, Why Don't We. Ms. Smith said it was a basic right to allow people to marry the ones they love.