Cheers as New Zealand approves gay marriage
WELLINGTON - The Associated Press
Lawmakers in New Zealand voted on the third and final reading of Wall’s Bill to legalize same-sex marriage, allowing gay marriage in the country. AP photoThe halls of Parliament echoed with a traditional Maori love song after lawmakers made New Zealand the 13th country in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize same-sex marriage.
Supporters of the bill, including hundreds of gay-rights advocates, stood and cheered after the 77-44 vote was announced late April 17. Then as lawmakers tried to get back to business, someone started signing “Pokarekare Ana” in the indigenous Maori language, and soon nearly the whole room joined in.
“In our society, the meaning of marriage is universal - it’s a declaration of love and commitment to a special person,” bill sponsor Louisa Wall said. She added that “nothing could make me more proud to be a New Zealander than passing this bill.”
Since 2005, New Zealand has allowed civil unions, which confer many legal rights to gay couples. The new law will allow gay couples to jointly adopt children for the first time and will also allow their marriages to be recognized in other countries. The law will take effect in late August.