New Zealand Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage
New Zealand has become the 13th nation to legalize same-sex marriage:
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Hundreds of jubilant gay-rights advocates celebrated at New Zealand’s Parliament on Wednesday as the country became the 13th in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize same-sex marriage.
Lawmakers voted 77 to 44 in favor of the gay-marriage bill on its third and final reading.
People watching from the public gallery and some lawmakers immediately broke into song after the result was announced, singing the New Zealand love song “Pokarekare Ana” in the indigenous Maori language.
“For us, we can now feel equal to everyone else,” said Tania Penafiel Bermudez, a bank teller who said she already considers herself married to partner Sonja Fry but now can get a certificate to prove it. “This means we can feel safe and fair and right in calling each other wife and wife.”
In one of several speeches that ended in a standing ovation, bill sponsor Louisa Wall told lawmakers the change was “our road toward healing.”
“In our society, the meaning of marriage is universal — it’s a declaration of love and commitment to a special person,” she said. She added that “nothing could make me more proud to be a New Zealander than passing this bill.”
Lawmakers from most political parties were encouraged by their leaders to vote as their conscience dictated rather than along party lines. Although Wall is from the opposition Labour Party, the bill also was supported by center-right Prime Minister John Key.
The list of nations that recognize same-sex marriage is expected to expand even more in coming months as both France and the United Kingdom are in the final stages of legislation that would legalize such marriages in those countries.