First couples celebrate same-sex marriage in New Zealand

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wedding bands set against the LGBT flag, from file.
Image: Palosirkka, drawing on work by Musaromana and Guanaco.

New Zealand yesterday legalised same-sex marriage, with a surge in marriage applications, according to New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs. New Zealand is now the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to legalise same-sex marriage, and the fourteenth country to do so worldwide.

After passing a bill in April of this year, the New Zealand parliament amended the country’s previous marriage act that had stood since 1955. The bill was approved with a majority vote of 77 to 44 in favour of amending the marriage act to allow same-sex marriage.

Under the new Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act, marriage in New Zealand is now defined as "the union of two people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity". According to the Australian Marriage Equality campaign group, 1,000 Australian same-sex couples indicated in a survey that they intend to travel to New Zealand to marry.

The amendment to New Zealand’s marriage act has received some opposition from both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church. Anglican Church leaders have insisted that ministers refuse to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies until their annual Synod takes place next year. The Reverend Matt Tittle, who conducted on of the first same-sex ceremonies, said however "All love is holy."

Currently same-sex marriage is also legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, France, and Uruguay.