Same-sex couples in New Zealand begin marrying as marriage law takes effect

Today, Monday, August 19, 2013, the freedom to marry took effect in New Zealand and same-sex couples across the country began marrying. The marriage law was passed four months ago with overwhelming support, on April 17. One of the couples who married today was Lynley Bendall and Ally Wanikau, who married on an airplane in a beautiful ceremony sponsored by Air New Zealand. 

The women, who live in Auckland, NZ with their three children, submitted a video to a contest from Air New Zealand and were selected as the winners. Watch the video:

Their ceremony took place at 39,000 feet and was attended by all three of their children - who served as pages and the flower girl.

The women have been together for 13 years. 

Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his husband, Justin Mikita, attended as witnesses to the wedding. "We are so excited to celebrate equality in NZ with Lynley & Ally at their wedding on AirNZ. The future is beautiful," Ferguson tweeted.

"To be married at 30,000 feet beneath strings of fairy lights with our children, friends and family as witnesses makes an already memorable day that much more special," Lynley told The Guardian after the ceremony. 

After the ceremony, the women took photos with their children on the ground in New Zealand. 

New Zealand today joins 14 other countries where same-sex couples can currently marry nationwide. Britain recently passed a marriage law, which will take effect in the coming months to extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples in England and Wales. And in two other countries - the United States and Mexico - same-sex couples in some jurisdictions can marry. Learn more about international marriage laws HERE. 

See more photos from Lynley and Ally's wedding at Air New Zealand's Facebook page HERE