WATCH: With final vote, New Zealand passes the freedom to marry!

Today, the Parliament in New Zealand read and voted to approve, in the final of three readings, a bill that will extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. The bill was sponsored by Labour MP Louisa Wall and passed its second, most critical reading on March 13, with nearly all party leaders standing in stark support. 

The first weddings for same-sex couples are expected to begin in the middle of August, four months after the Governor-General signs the bill into law.

It's been a momentous month for the freedom to marry abroad. In the past few weeks, marriage bills in Uruguay and France have also cleared critical votes, and greater movement is expected soon for the freedom to marry in England and Wales.  

Freedom to Marry Founder and President Evan Wolfson applauded the news today in a statement. He said:

Following last week's vote for marriage in Uruguay, New Zealand today became the 16th country where same-sex couples can now share in the freedom to marry - and grew the number of freedom to marry continents to five. With France poised to embrace the freedom to marry within the month, and England and others likely to move to marriage this year, the global momentum for the freedom to marry is undeniable. The momentum is there because the more people have talked about gay people and why marriage matters, the more it's become clear there is no good reason to continue the exclusion from marriage. It's time for decision-makers in the United States to end the denial of marriage, do right by all families, and uphold our own American commitment to liberty and justice for all.

Watch inspiring video of the marriage bill passing its third reading and vote below:

 

When marriages between same-sex couples begin soon in the country, New Zealand will join 11 countries that have the freedom to marry for same-sex couples nationwide: The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, and Denmark. Three others have taken judicial and regional steps to allow same-sex couples to share in the freedom to marry in parts of the country: Brazil, Mexico, and the United States. Two others - Uruguay and France - have not yet implemented their marriage laws. 

Learn all about the freedom to marry internationally HERE.