It was reported in Stuff on 27 April that after a request from Family First, under the Official Information Act, the Department of Internal Affairs had declined forty seven independent marriage celebrant applications in the last two-and-a-half years because the applicants were unwilling to officiate same-sex weddings.
The Department noted “independent marriage celebrants must make themselves available to all persons legally able to be married in New Zealand and cannot refuse to solemnize any marriage due to reasons that would contravene the Human Rights Act 1993”.
MP Louisa Wall, who introduced the Definition of Marriage Amendment Bill to parliament in 2012 said “that while churches could discriminate, the state could not and should not. It is not the state’s role to sanction heterosexuality or homosexuality”.
Bob McCoskrie of Family First New Zealand says that the 2012 bill “did not protect the consciences of independent marriage celebrants who are not lawfully able to refuse a request to marry a same-sex couple”.
Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Jeff Montgomery said that “independent celebrants are providing a public service, and they are acting on behalf of the Government and are required to comply with the Marriages Act and other relevant legislation. If they are not willing to comply with the Human Rights Act, ie they will choose to discriminate against certain members of the public, then I cannot appoint them”.