Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill

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Explanatory note

General policy statement

This Bill amends the Marriage Act 1955 (the principal Act) to ensure that its provisions are not applied in a discriminatory manner.

The principal Act does not define marriage and makes no reference to a marriage being between a man and a woman. Essentially the principal Act sets out the technical requirements for the civil regulation of marriage. However, couples, other than a man and a woman, have not been permitted to obtain marriage licences under the principal Act.

This Bill will make it clear that a marriage is a union of 2 people regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. It will ensure that all people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity will have the opportunity to marry if they so choose.

Marriage, as a social institution, is a fundamental human right and limiting that human right to 1 group in society only does not allow for equality. This Bill will ensure that there is equality for people wishing to marry regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity and will be in accordance with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the Human Rights Act 1993.

Clause by clause analysis

Clause 1 is the Title provision.

Clause 2 is the commencement clause. It provides for the Bill to come into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.

Clause 3 provides that the Marriage Act 1955 is the principal Act.

Clause 4 provides that the purpose of the Bill is to clarify that a marriage is between 2 people regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Clause 5 inserts in section 2, a definition of marriage that is defined as the union of 2 people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Clause 6 replaces Schedule 2 with the Schedule 2 set out in the Schedule of this Bill. The Schedule sets out the prohibited degrees of marriage in gender neutral terms.