New Zealand is the 13th country to legalize gay marriage in the world, and the first out the Asia-Pacific countries. New Zealand has allowed civil unions between gay couples since 2005, but the new proposal allows couples to adopt and allows for their marriages to be recognized in other countries. The new proposal will take effect in August.
New Zealand passed the legislation 77-44 on April 17. Although over two-thirds of the New Zealand population supports gay marriage, there is still opposition to the bill. A lobbying group called Family First presented a proposition to lawmakers, which was signed by 50,000 people in opposition to the legislation.
There is talk about Australia following suit to their neighboring state. Julia Gillard, Australia’s prime minister, is has voiced her opinion and is opposed to same-sex marriage, but some states are considering a new legislation allowing for gay marriage.
New Zealand now joins Spain, Canada, Belgium, and several other countries by allowing gay marriage. Most recently (as of yesterday), France has legalized gay marriage. Nine U.S. states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage, but it is still not recognized by the federal government.
Many U.S. senators and other prominent public figures have changed their expressed views on same-sex marriage. The United States may not be far behind New Zealand in the fight for equality (or so we can hope).