March 13, 2013
Yesterday, a bill that would bring marriage equality to New Zeland passed the second of three required votes on its way to final approval. According to the AP, the second vote is generally the most important, meaning the marriage legislation is all but guaranteed to become law.
Seventy-seven members of parliament (MPs) voted in favor of the bill in yesterday’s parliamentary vote, with 44 voting against. Three Cabinet ministers voted against it after supporting the legislation in the first vote (which was 80-40); one Labour MP who voted against the bill in the first vote voted for it in this round. Some wording in the legislation was changed to clarify that religious officials can be excused from performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples according to their beliefs.
A final vote could happen as early as April. After a four-month ‘stand-down’ period, the law would go into effect and same-sex couples would be able to obtain marriage licenses.
Louisa Wall, the bill’s sponsor and an openly gay MP, said that the government’s refusal to allow same-sex couples the right to marry constitutes a form of discrimination and separates them off from the rest of society:
“Marriage belongs to society as a whole, and that requires the involvement of the whole of society. The role of the state in marriage is to issue a license to two people who love each other and want to commit to one another formally. That’s what this bill does.”
She also quoted the Seattle-based single Macklemore’s song “Same Love,” which contains the line, “And I can’t change, / even if I tried, / even if I wanted to, / I can’t change.”
Polls have shown that nearly two-thirds of New Zealanders support marriage equality.