A New Zealand parliamentary committee on Wednesday recommended lawmakers approve a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry.
The New Zealand Herald reported the Government Administration Committee endorsed the measure introduced by lesbian Parliamentarian Louisa Wall with an amendment that would allow clergy to not perform gay weddings if they go against their religious beliefs.
“Marriage equality is about fairness and choice,” Wall told the newspaper. “This process has showed that that message has really resonated with New Zealanders.”
Parliamentarians last August approved the same-sex marriage bill in its first reading by an 80-40 vote margin. It’s second reading is scheduled to take place on March 13.
Prime Minister John Key supports the measure.
Canada, Argentina, Spain, Denmark and South Africa are among the countries that currently allow same-sex marriage.
The British House of Commons earlier this month approved a bill that would allow same-sex couples tie the knot in England and Wales. The French National Assembly on Feb. 12 passed a similar measure that would also extend adoption rights to gay men and lesbians.
The Mexican Supreme Court last week formally found the state of Oaxaca’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court next month will hear oral arguments in two cases that challenge the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.
“We’re very aware that New Zealand’s progress towards allowing same sex couples to marry mirrors what’s happening in a number of other western countries,” Jackie Russell-Green of the New Zealand Campaign for Marriage Equality told the Washington Blade. “This is part of a broader tradition of ever increasing human rights throughout the western world and the belief that the law should be equally applied to all. I am sure that members of Parliament are mindful of what’s happening overseas as they consider the issue of marriage equality in New Zealand.”