Starting Monday, same-sex couples in New Zealand may marry legally

Aug. 18, 2013 at 7:23 PM

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Same-sex couples in New Zealand said they were preparing to marry as soon as sex-same marriage becomes legal Monday.

Monday will be the first day lesbian and gay couples can marry legally, TVNZ reported Sunday.

New Zealand's Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act now defines marriage as "the union of two people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity."

At least nine couples will marry Monday, said Jeff Montgomery of the Department of Internal Affairs' Division of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Wellington.

He said he expects the number will be higher once all the information from the registry offices is assessed.

Three times as many marriage forms as the usual 977 were downloaded from the department's website last week.

One hundred twenty-five of the forms were downloaded by couples eager to change their civil union to a marriage, and 156 forms were downloaded by couples applying from abroad, the TV station said.

The remaining 700 were downloaded by couples intending to be in New Zealand three days prior their wedding.

The department said it will issue 31 marriage licenses in Auckland, Rotorua and Christchurch Monday.

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