Six Canterbury couples are expected to wed today as the first same-sex weddings take place.
A law comes into effect this morning making New Zealand the 15th country in which same-sex couples can legally get married.
Cantabrians planning to marry today will start their big day at the registry office, which opens at 8.30am. This will be non-heterosexual couples’ first chance to pick up their wedding licences.
Department of Internal Affairs figures show six notices of intended marriage had been issued for the Canterbury region on Friday, indicating those people wanted to wed today. Nationally, 31 have been issued.
One couple hoping to make the rush from registry office to altar is Kim Earney, 38, and her fiance, Vicky, 24. She and her partner want to be one of the first couples to marry in Christchurch, and have planned an 8.30am ceremony at Del Mar in Ferrymead.
A great day for those who want to get married, but previously have been unable to. As a supporter of the institution of marriage, I think it is excellent that more loving couples who want to make a life-long commitment to each other can no do so through marriage.
Christchurch churches remain divided over same-sex marriages, with some happy to perform ceremonies at their premises and others firmly opposed.
No Catholic churches or Anglican churches would perform the ceremonies or allow them in their churches, as “marriage is currently defined as between a man and a woman”.
Their churches, including the Cardboard Cathedral and the Church of the Good Shepherd, would not be used for same-sex weddings.
However, other denominations in Canterbury welcomed the new law. Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians and Hindus have left it up to individual parishes to decide whether to facilitate such weddings.
Crave Metropolitan Community Church spiritual leader Neil Hellewell said the church was “gay affirming” and would happily perform the ceremonies.
Durham St Methodist Church Reverend Mary Caygill said her parish was also in full support.
“The feeling of the congregation is that we want to be a place same-sex couples can come if they want to get married in a church.”
As it should be, it is up to each religion to decide for itself what their policy should be. Separation of church and state is a good thing.