New Zealand Legalizes Gay Marriage
Today (April 17, 2013), New Zealand became the 13th country to legalize same-sex marriage. The vote in parliament was 77 to 44 to amend the Marriage Act that was put in place in 1955. The next step in the process is for the governor-general to give royal consent to the amendment, but according to CNN News this is generally a given. This makes New Zealand the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize gay marriage. In 2005, New Zealand passed a law that allowed civil unions but it wasn’t until now that same-sex couples could be joined in actual marriage. The law will not come into effect until about four months, but both gay and straight citizens have started to celebrate today in New Zealand.
It is heartening for the citizens of New Zealand to see their country take such a big step forward. The MP (member of parliament) of the Labor Party who sponsored this bill, Louisa Wall, is openly gay. She said that she was “very proud to be a member of a Parliament that has voted overwhelmingly to give New Zealanders, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender, the right to marry.” The people who were lucky enough to be observing the vote in the public gallery burst out singing the New Zealand national anthem (in the Maori language) as soon as the bill was passed.
Those who were opposed to the legislation were the Roman Catholic Church and other social, religious and political groups who believe that the bill would go against the idea of family. The bill states that any member of the clergy may refuse to officiate a same-sex marriage if it goes against their beliefs.
Australia had similar legislation up for discussion last year but they chose not to pass it. Groups that support same-sex marriage in Australia see the passing of the bill in New Zealand as an embarrassment because their country could have done the same thing, but didn’t.
Was it right for New Zealand to pass this bill? Could this happen in the United States? There are now 13 countries that have passed legislation that allow same-sex marriage. Do you think this number will start to grow quickly as other countries pass similar legislation or do you think the number will stay this low?