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Congratulations
 
Congratulations to New Zealand
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 04/17/13
Last updated on: 04/17/13
 
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Louisa Wall, sponsor of the marriage equality bill.

On April 17, 2013, New Zealand's Parliament passed a marriage equality bill on a vote of 77 to 44, making it the 13th nation to extend equal marriage rights to all its gay and lesbian citizens. Upon the announcement of the vote, cheers resounded in the gallery and on the floor and both visitors and parliamentarians broke out into song.

Isaac Davison reports in the New Zealand Herald that after the declaration of the vote visitors and Members of Parliament applauded and then joined in a waiata, a Maori song or chant that expresses the wisdom of ancestors. The waiata they sang is a love song, "Pokarekare Ana," which is an unofficial national anthem.

The marriage equality bill amends New Zealand law to read that "marriage means the union of two people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity."

Same-sex couples will be able to marry in New Zealand beginning in mid-August. The change in law comes 27 years after New Zealand decriminalized homosexuality and 8 years after civil unions went into effect.

The debate on the bill's final reading was conducted with humor and little acrimony, with only three members speaking against it. Members of Parliament were allowed a "conscience vote." The bill was supported by Prime Minister John Key and many members of his ruling center-right National Party, and by most members of the opposition center-left Labour Party.

The bill was sponsored by openly lesbian Labour MP Louisa Wall. After the vote, Wall told reporters, "Yay, we did it." She said she had hoped to get 61 'Yes' votes on the bill. "I never would have thought that Parliament would have overwhelmingly supported it."

She added, "I think the cross party working group has been incredibly effective, but [the vote] also shows we are building on our human rights tradition as a country."

She said that "nothing could make me more proud to be a New Zealander than passing this bill" and thanked her colleagues "for simply doing what is just, fair and right."

She also thanked her "darling" civil union partner Prue Kapua for "sharing this journey with me."

Same-sex marriage supporters at the Campaign for Marriage Equality party in Wellington and at gay bars in Wellington and Aukland also cheered loudly and applauded as the bill was passed into law.

In the video below, witty MP Maurice Williamson speaks in favor of the bill and reassures opponents that the sun will rise in the morning.

The video below documents the announcement of the vote and the shows of jubilation that followed.

 
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