New Zealand's Parliament approved marriage equality today in the third and final vote required for the legislation's passage.
Legislators voted 77 to 44 in favor of the bill, and the nation's governor-general is expected to give it assent, considered a formality. It will take effect within four months, CNN reports.
Louisa Wall, the bill's chief sponsor, said she is "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." In her testimony before the vote, Wall, who is a lesbian, had thanked her "darling" civil union partner, Prue Kapua, for "sharing this journey with me," The New Zealand Herald notes.
A marriage equality bill also recently passed in Uruguay, where the president is expected to sign it. With the addition of Uruguay and New Zealand, there will be 13 countries with nationwide marriage equality. Three others, including the United States, have legal same-sex marriage in certain states or regions.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the New Zealand vote will not change her opposition to marriage equality. "I doubt we're going to end up agreeing," she told The Sydney Morning Herald. Australian gay rights supporters predicted the vote in New Zealand would increase the pressure for marriage equality in their nation and said many Aussies would likely go to New Zealand to marry.