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New Zealand parliament passes marriage equality bill

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

The New Zealand parliament today gave final approval to a proposed marriage equality bill, which passed 77-44 in its third reading.  The bill will amend New Zealand law to read that “marriage means the union of two people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Immediately after the final vote was announced, spectators in the chamber’s gallery burst into spontaneous song, singing “Pokarekare Ana,” a traditional New Zealand love ballad in the Maori language.  (See below for video.)

According to the AP, several speeches made by lawmakers before the final vote resulted in standing ovations.  Openly gay bill sponsor Louisa Wall told her peers that marriage equality would help the country on “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.”

Lawmakers in nearly all political parties were allowed to vote their conscience on the bill as opposed to being bound to a party-line vote, as is often the case in a parliamentary system.  The legislation was also supported by Prime Minister John Key, head of the center-right New Zealand National Party.  Key was quoted by the AP as saying that the bill “is part of equality in modern-day New Zealand.”

Today’s 77 to 44 vote count was the same as the vote count from the bill’s second reading two weeks ago, according to the New Zealand Herald, although two lawmakers switched their votes, one going from yes to no and the other from no to yes.

New Zealand will be the first country in the Asia-Pacific area to provide equal marriage rights for same-sex couples when the bill goes into effect in mid-August, four months after the Governor-General signs it into law.  Tau Henare, a National list member of the New Zealand parliament, believes that the new law will entice Australians to hop over to New Zealand to wed, adding, “hopefully it will push the Aussies into doing something.”

Rodney Croome, national director for Australian Marriage Equality, agreed with Henare that couples would likely travel to the neighboring country for marriage licenses, even though those licenses will not be recognized in Australia.  “There’s this really big, pent-up demand for this in Australia,” he told the AP.  Marriage equality legislation failed in Australia last year both at the federal and state levels.

New Zealand will be the 16th country to provide marriage rights to same-sex couples.  Last week, Uruguayan lawmakers passed a marriage equality bill, which President José Mujica has said he will sign.  A proposed marriage equality bill is due for a second reading today in the National Assembly and a final vote next Tuesday.  The bill gained final approval from the French Senate last week.  A marriage equality vote is also expected today in the Colombian Senate.

Here in the United States, the Delaware House Administration Committee is set to consider a marriage equality bill later today.  Equality Delaware will be tweeting updates via their handle, @eqde, and the hashtag #DE4M

Check below the jump for video.

Spectators sing a Maori love song after the final vote results are announced (h/t Towleroad).

New Zealand MP Maurice Williamson delivers a fantastic speech before the debate (again, h/t Towleroad).

1 Comment

  • 1. To Find Out More | END(A)&hellip  |  April 17, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    […] not limit its information to just the ENDA act or the United States. For example, the subject of a recent post concerned the New Zealand parliament’s passage of a marriage equality bill. Of course domestic […]

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