New Zealand Parliament to Vote on SSM

Gay marriage is ''the reality of our times'' and should be voted in to law, Labour's David Shearer says but deputy Prime Minister Bill English says it is ''not that important'' and he ''thought the problem had been solved'' with civil unions.

And NZ First MP Richard Prosser says although he has ''nothing against gays'' he will be voting against a gay marriage bill to ''preserve the institution of marriage''.

A members bill to allow same sex couples to marry was today drawn from a ballot and will be debated by Parliament - potentially as early as next month.

The bill, led by Labour MP Louisa Wall, is likely to be subject to a conscience vote but will have the support of Shearer and all Green Party MPs. Prime Minister John Key has previously indicated he would vote for a bill for gay marriage to at least be considered by a select committee.

A number of MPs - including Key and English - voted against legislation in 2004 that allowed same sex couples to enter civil unions. Many of those MPs still in Parliament may also vote against Wall's bill.