New Zealand Parliament Votes To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

New Zealand’s Parliament passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage Wednesday.

Parliament voted 77-44 in favor of the bill on its third reading, the second-to-last step to enacting laws in the country. The next and final step, in which the governor-general gives royal assent, is generally guaranteed.

Louisa Wall, the bill’s sponsor, said she is “very proud to be a member of a Parliament that has voted overwhelmingly to give New Zealanders, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender, the right to marry.”

The New Zealand vote comes just under a week after Uruguay’s Congress approved a measure to legalize same-sex marriage. The measure was passed by 71 of the 91 members of the Chamber of Deputies present. The next step for the South American country is for its president, José Mujica, to sign the bill, which he has said he supports.

New Zealand has allowed civil unions since 2005, giving many legal rights to same-sex couples. The new law will allow gay couples to jointly adopt children and will allow same-sex marriages to be recognized in other countries. The new law will go into effect in late August.

Not only will the Uruguay measure allow citizens to marry, but foreigners will also be allowed to come to the country for same-sex marriage. The same practice applies to foreign heterosexual couples.

The proposal, called the “marriage equality project,” to allow same-sex marriage in Uruguay was drafted by the gay rights group the Black Sheep Collective.

“We are living in a historic moment,” said Federico Grana, one of the leaders of the collective. “In terms of the steps needed, we calculate that the first gay couples should be getting married 90 days from the promulgation of the law, or in the middle of July.”

If both New Zealand Uruguay pass their same-sex marriage bills, the number of nations allowing the practice will rise to 13. Of those countries, eight are in Europe. The first was the Netherlands in 2001, and Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden followed afterward. Argentina, Canada, and South Africa are the three non-European groups that have legalized same-sex marriage.

In the US, nine states allow same-sex marriage. Massachusetts became the first state to legally recognize gay marriage in 2004. It was followed by Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington as well as the District of Columbia. California began granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples in June 2008, but the practice ended in November of that year due to the passage of Proposition 8, which limited marriages to those between one man and one woman.

Are you glad New Zealand’s Parliament has voted to legalize same-sex marriage?