By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com March 13 2013 1:09 PM ET
New Zealand lawmakers gave a second vote of approval to a bill that could establish marriage equality, nearly ensuring its final passage in Parliament.
Lawmakers approved the bill 77-44 in the second of three voting rounds before the bill is signed into law, according to the Associated Press. The third and final vote could be taken as early as next month.
The country currently has a same-sex civil union law that grants many of the same rights and benefits of marriage. However, this bill would give gay couples equal marriage rights, which about two thirds of New Zealanders support, according to recent polls.
Lesbian lawmaker Louisa Wall sponsored the bill, and she said the second round produced a "fantastic result."
"Marriage belongs to society as a whole, and that requires the involvement of the whole of society," Wall said in a speech supporting the bill. "The role of the state in marriage is to issue a license to two people who love each other and want to commit to one another formally. That's what this bill does."