March 13, 2013 at 10:04 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
New Zealand lawmakers approve same-sex marriage bill

New Zealand, parliament, gay news, Washington Blade

Parliament building in New Zealand (Photo by Midnighttonight via Wikimedia Commons)

New Zealand lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the country.

The 77-44 vote is the second of three votes on the proposal.

“It was a pleasing result and the culmination of a lot of work from our LGBTI community in collaboration with people from across our society who believe in social justice,” lesbian Parliamentarian Louisa Wall, who introduced the measure, told the Washington Blade after the vote. “What was so heartening was the joining of youth leadership from across the political spectrum representing the eight political parties in our parliament who sent a strong message of support for and advocacy of equal rights under New Zealand for all citizens earlier in the week.”

Jackie Russell-Green of the New Zealand Campaign for Marriage Equality also welcomed the vote.

“We’re thrilled with last night’s result,” she told the Blade. “We’re now one closer to marriage equality in New Zealand.”

Canada, the Netherlands, Spain and South Africa are among the countries that allow gays and lesbians to tie the knot.

The British House of Commons last month overwhelmingly approved a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in England and Wales. The French Senate on April 2 will begin debating a proposal that would extend marriage and adoption rights to gays and lesbians.

The final vote on the same-sex marriage bill in the New Zealand Parliament is expected to take place in the middle of April.

Prime Minister John Key supports the measure, but Russell-Green and other proponents stressed they must remain vigilant in spite of the March 13 vote.

“We will need to be resolute as we progress to the third and final reading of the marriage equality bill,” Wall said. “So while the result was fantastic, there will be no celebration until the bill passes.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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