New Zealand legislators overwhelmingly advance marriage bill in critical vote

Yesterday, legislators in New Zealand overwhelmingly voted to advance a bill that would extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples across the country. Seventy-seven lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, with only 44 opposed. 

The vote marked the second of three votes needed to pass the marriage bill, although the second vote, according to The Associated Press, "is typically the most crucial one" and that "the third and final vote is likely to be little more than a formality." The first vote occurred in August, when the bill advanced 80-40. The final vote on the bill is expected in April, and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has been a vocal supporter of marriage for same-sex couples. If the law is approved, marriages in New Zealand will begin four months later, likely in late Summer or early Fall. 

The sponsor of the bill, Louisa Wall, applauded the affirmative vote and explained the importance of the freedom to marry in New Zealand. She said:

Marriage belongs to society as a whole, and that requires the involvement of the whole of society. The role of the state in marriage is to issue a license to two people who love each other and want to commit to one another formally. That's what this bill does.

The huge movement forward in New Zealand is the latest international development on the freedom to marry that demonstrates a global growth in support for ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. Last month, the British House of Commons and the French National Assembly approved marriage bills, poising each country to extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples this year. Marriage bills were approved in the lower houses of the legislatures in Uruguay and Colombia in December 2012, and further action is expected for each bill this year. And just this month, a respected sociologist in China submitted a proposal to the government urging movement on the freedom to marry.

For more information on the freedom to marry abroad, check out our International resources.