New Zealand legalizes gay marriage (VIDEO)


An openly gay parliamentarian introduced a bill that would legalize marriage equality and adoption for same-sex couples in New Zealand and it passed the first of three votes with a large majority.



New Zealand's parliament has legalized same-sex marriage, making it the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to do so.

Despite opposition from Christian lobby groups, lawmakers in New Zealand approved the bill, which amended the country's 1955 marriage act. It was passed with 77 votes in favor and 44 against.

"Two-thirds of parliament have endorsed marriage equality," Louisa Wall, the openly gay opposition Labor Party MP who promoted the bill, told reporters after the vote. "It shows that we are building on our human rights as a country."

More from GlobalPost: New Zealand moves toward marriage equality

When the results of the vote were announced, people watching from the public gallery and some of the lawmakers immediately broke into song, singing the New Zealand love song "Pokarekare Ana" in the indigenous Maori language.

"For us, we can now feel equal to everyone else," Tania Penafiel Bermudez, a bank teller who said she already considers herself married to partner Sonja Fry but now can get a certificate to prove it, told the Associated Press. "This means we can feel safe and fair and right in calling each other wife and wife."

The bill had been expected to pass as it was also supported in a preliminary vote held last month. It should come into effect in August.

New Zealand is the 13th country to legalize same-sex marriage, after Uruguay passed its own law last week.

Australia rejected a similar proposal last year.

Watch the gallery breaking into song: