New Zealand same-sex weddings happen Monday, Aug 19, 2013, as a law comes into effect the same day. New Zealand became the 15th country for legalising same-sex marriage. The New Zealand same-sex marriage law now reads, "union of two people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity".
According to the live update report from TVNZ, there were more than 30 same sex-sex couples who already registered to marry and there were at least ten couples who are getting married on Monday.
Weeks before Monday, there were already 977 marriage forms downloaded from the Department of Internal Affairs Web site, while there were as many as 1,000 Australian same-sex couples who contacted the Australian Marriage Equality (AME) to expressed their intention to be married in New Zealand.
"The figure is high because Australian same-sex couples have been waiting for marriage equality in their own country for almost a decade now and some can't wait any longer," AME National Director Rodney Croome told AAP.
An Australian gay couple from Newscastle, Trent Kandler, a teacher, and Paul McCarthy, a vet, was among the very first couple to get married in a ceremony at Te Papa on Monday morning.
The Australian gay couple won a tourism New Zealand competition and was given the opportunity to be the very first Australian same-sex couples to marry in the country. They had been together for 11 years and they never thought that forever in the form of marriage will come true until today.
"We're validated, our relationship is validated in front of our family and friends. I'm a very proud man," Mr McCarthy told Radio NZ.
In an interview with Newstalk ZB, Wellington Tourism Chief Executive David Perks said that Tourism New Zealand is now welcoming all visitors from other countries, especially those who want to undergo same-sex marriage in New Zealand.
"Lots of people come to New Zealand and lots of people come to Wellington from other countries to get married. The ball already is rolling. It's just fantastic we're able to welcome a whole set of people who previously we couldn't," said Mr Perks.
Another Australian couple, Sarah and Emma, celebrated emotionally when they were given their marriage papers that allowed them to be married Monday afternoon in Auckland. They refuse to give details about their real names and wedding as an Australian television show will cover their wedding.
When asked about their feelings about their upcoming wedding, Emma kept it simple but full of meaning.
"It's nice to be attached to something very special," Emma said.
Meanwhile, National Party MP for Botany Jami-Lee Ross expressed support to all same-sex couples getting married.
"1st day same sex couples can marry in NZ. It isnt everyones cup of tea, but today, lets just celebrate happiness & love. Thats all its about," Mr Ross tweeted.
However, it looked like that same-sex couple Lynley Bendall and Ally Wanikau won the same-sex wedding race as they were reportedly being married at 6:40 am on board 9,150 metres high above the ground. They were being married at an Air New Zealand flight from Queenstown to Auckland with their family and friends. The wedding was witnessed by Modern Family actor Jesse Tyler Fergusoon.
See video here:
Conversely, Kiwi couple Natasha Vitalia and Melissa Ray was the one lucky to have Labour MP Louisa Wall attending their wedding at 8 am. It was Ms Wall who passed the Definition of Marriage Amendment Bill in its third reading in Parliament in April.
Ms Wall granted an interview with One's Breakfast today before coming to the Vitalia-Ray wedding. She said she wished all same-sex couples marrying today "a wonderful life."
"Amazing day to be here to celebrate with Tash and Mel and their families, their love for one another and the commitment they have to one another and the institution of marriage".
"All the theory of Parliament now comes to fruition today and we can put in practise the fact that any two people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity can get a marriage license and so that's what we are going to be celebrating today."
"And I think for all New Zealanders today is about marriage full-stop. So hopefully everybody can celebrate with friends, family and the community that people have decided to commit themselves to one another in this amazing union. And today is a wonderful day."
"Today, any two people regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity can marry in New Zealand. It is a milestone that is cause for joy and celebration."
"I am immensely proud to have led the campaign for marriage equality in New Zealand that gave same-sex couples and LGBTI New Zealanders the legal right to marry."
"I hope the New Zealand experience will inspire others to eliminate inequality and discrimination where they see it and to fight for what is right, fair and just," Ms Wall said.
New Zealand same-sex couple Ms Vitalia and Ms Ray won the ZM's radio competition which awarded them with an all-expense-paid wedding ceremony at the Auckland Unitarian Church in Ponsoby. The reception followed at The Cloud on Auckland's Viaduct. They had Harrison Craig, winner of The Voice Australia singing competition, while they were signing their marriage certificate.
Ms Vitalia expressed excitement being one of the first New Zealand same-sex couples to be married.
"This is overwhelming. This is what famous people feel like with all these cameras in your face. I don't know if we will be the first but we will be one of the first so it's pretty cool," Ms Vitalia said.