Cheers, applause as New Zealand legalizes same-sex marriage

Rpt-WELLINGTON Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:21pm EDT

Related Video

Rpt-WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand's parliament voted in favor of allowing same-sex marriage on Wednesday, prompting cheers, applause and the singing of a traditional Maori celebratory song from the public gallery.

Seventy-seven of 121 members of parliament voted in favor of amending the current 1955 Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry, making New Zealand the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to do so.

"Two-thirds of parliament have endorsed marriage equality," Louisa Wall, the openly gay opposition Labour Party MP who promoted the bill, told reporters after the vote. "It shows that we are building on our human rights as a country."

The bill was widely expected to pass, given similar support for the change in a preliminary vote held last month. It will likely come into effect in August.

New Zealand becomes the 13th country to legalize same-sex marriages, after Uruguay passed its own law last week. Australia last year rejected a similar proposal.

Countries where such marriages are legal include Canada, Spain and Sweden, in addition to some states in the United States. France is close to legalizing same-sex marriages amid increasingly vocal opposition.

The bill was opposed by the Roman Catholic Church and some conservative religious, political and social groups which campaigned that it would undermine the institution of the family.

The law makes it clear that clergy can decline to preside in gay marriages if they conflict with their beliefs.

The law to allow same-sex marriages comes after New Zealand gave same-sex relationships partial legal recognition in 2005 with the establishment of civil unions.

"I have a boyfriend, so it means we can get married, which is a good thing," said Timothy Atkin, a student who was among a crowd listening to the hearing in the parliamentary lobby.

"It's important to be seen as equal under the law."

(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Nick Macfie)

(This story was refiled to correct name to "Timothy Atkin" from "Timothy Atkins" in the 10th paragraph)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

California state worker Albert Jagow (L) goes over his retirement options with Calpers Retirement Program Specialist JeanAnn Kirkpatrick at the Calpers regional office in Sacramento, California October 21, 2009. Calpers, the largest U.S. public pension fund, manages retirement benefits for more than 1.6 million people, with assets comparable in value to the entire GDP of Israel. The Calpers investment portfolio had a historic drop in value, going from a peak of $250 billion in the fall of 2007 to $167 billion in March 2009, a loss of about a third during that period. It is now around $200 billion. REUTERS/Max Whittaker   (UNITED STATES) - RTXPWOZ

How to get out of debt

Financial adviser Eric Brotman offers strategies for cutting debt from student loans and elder care -- and how to avoid money woes in the first place.  Video