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Wednesday 08 October 2008

Pro-civil union, ex-NZ First MP dies

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News Staff - 25th September 2008

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Ex-MP Brian Donnelly, one of only two NZ First MPs to vote in favour of New Zealand's Civil Union Bill, died this afternoon, Party leader Winston Peters has told Parliament.

Died: Brian Donnelly

Donnelly was known as a social liberal MP in the usually right-wing leaning Party. He made reference to his gay brother during debate about Civil Unions in 2004, when he appealed to opponents of same-sex marriage to be tolerant and realise "their candles won't burn less brightly if they light someone else's".

"How will my own marriage be diminished by the passage of this legislation? The answer, and I am convinced it is the correct answer, is it will not make one iota of difference," he told the House.

For some weeks Donnelly towed the NZ First Party line by suggesting a national referendum on whether LGBT New Zealanders should have the right to legal relationship recognition, but he eventually voted in favour of the legislation at each stage, along with fellow NZ First MP Ron Mark.

The long-serving MP left Parliament earlier this year to become NZ High Commissioner to the Cook Islands, but had to resign last month due to ill health.