October 22, 2013 at 12:40 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Lawmakers in Australian capital approve same-sex marriage bill
Gay News, Washington Blade, Australia

Lawmakers in the Australian capital on Tuesday approved a same-sex marriage bill. (Photo by Roke; courtesy Wikimedia)

Lawmakers who represent Australia’s capital city on Tuesday approved a bill that would for the first time extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in the country.

Legislators in the Australian Capital Territory in which Canberra is located passed the measure by a 9-8 vote margin. The Canberra Times reported gays and lesbians from across the country would be able to marry in the territory by the end of the year.

“Today’s vote in the ACT is a day many Australians have waited for,” Ivan Hinton, deputy director of Australian Marriage Equality, said after the vote. “Historically, the ACT has said loving and committed same-sex couples deserve and will now have the right to get married.”

New Zealand and 13 other countries currently allow same-sex marriage.

Gays and lesbians in England and Wales will be able to exchange vows in the spring.

Brazil’s National Council of Justice in May ruled registrars in the South American country cannot deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Lawmakers and courts in other nations that include Mexico and Colombia continue to consider the issue.

New Jersey on Monday joined 13 other U.S. states and D.C. that allow gays and lesbians to exchange vows.

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Wednesday is scheduled to hear oral arguments in a case that is expected to determine whether same-sex couples can legally marry throughout the state. Lawmakers in Illinois and Hawaii are expected to consider the issue in the coming days.

Legislators in the Australian states of Tasmania and New South Wales are expected to consider same-sex marriage bills in the coming weeks.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who took office last month, has confirmed his administration will challenge the Australian Capital Territory’s measure to the country’s High Court.

Abbott’s sister, Christine Forster, recently announced her engagement to her long-time partner.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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