The New Zealand Parliament on Wednesday approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder], bringing the bill one vote closer to becoming law. The bill was approved [AP report] by a vote of 77-44, in the second of three votes needed to become law. The second vote is generally the most critical, with the third and final vote viewed as more of a formality. The vote came after public pressure for the lawmakers to support same-sex marriage. The vote was widely attended by the public, who cheered after the bill was approved. Polls show that approximately two-thirds of the population support same-sex marriage. New Zealand already has civil union laws, which grant legal benefits for same-sex couples. The language of the bill only reflected minor changes from the original version passed by an 80-40 vote. The third vote may be taken as early as April.
Same-sex marriage has been controversial globally in recent years. Last month France's lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, approved a bill [JURIST report] which extends marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples. The bill was approved by a vote of 329-229 against, with 10 abstaining, and must ultimately be approved by the senate in order to become law. Also in February the Illinois Senate approved a bill [JURIST report] to legalize same-sex marriage. The senate voted 34-21 to lift the ban on same-sex marriage in the state of Illinois. Earlier in February the UK Parliament approved [JURIST report] a same-sex marriage bill. In June Denmark approved a same-sex marriage law [JURIST report], making it the eleventh country to do so.