April 17, 2013 at 7:48 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
New Zealand same-sex marriage bill receives final approval

New Zealand, parliament, gay news, Washington Blade

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

New Zealand lawmakers on Wednesday gave final approval to a bill that would allow gays and lesbians to marry in the country.

The 77-44 vote came roughly a month after the country’s Parliament approved the same-sex marriage measure introduced by lesbian Parliamentarian Louisa Wall. A parliamentary committee on Feb. 27 backed the proposal.

“I feel immensely proud to be a Kiwi tonight,” Wall said as reported by GayNZ.com. “This vote is about recognizing the rights all New Zealanders are entitled to in a free and democratic society.”

Same-sex couples can marry in South Africa, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Argentina, Canada and in nine U.S. states and D.C.

Uruguayan and French lawmakers last week approved bills that would allow gays and lesbians to tie the knot in their respective countries. A commission charged with reforming the Irish constitution on Sunday overwhelmingly approved a recommendation urging the country’s government to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples, while British lawmakers continue to debate a bill that would allow nuptials for gays and lesbians in England and Wales.

The Colombia Senate on Wednesday is expected to vote on a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the South American country.

The New Zealand Herald reported gays and lesbians can begin to marry in the South Pacific nation in August.

“We did it together,” said in a large banner placed on their website after the bill passed. “We made history happen. Congratulations New Zealand, marriage equality has come.”

“It’s been a profoundly moving day and throughout New Zealand gay people and their friends and families are welcoming marriage equality,” Jackie Russell-Green of the New Zealand Campaign for Marriage Equality told the Washington Blade after the vote. “New Zealand has a proud history of being at the forefront of human rights and tonight’s vote is a demonstration of our commitment to ensure equal treatment before the law for all New Zealanders.”

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

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