Last week the New Zealand parliament passed a law legalizing same sex marriage. The vote was 77-44 in favor. The bill has to be signed by the country’s governor general to become law but that is a formality since his role is largely ceremonial and does not have executive powers.
Just a week earlier, Uruguay’s parliament also approved of same-sex marriage by lopsided votes, with 71 of the 92 lower house members voting for it and the senate passing it 23-8. The president has to sign it and he has said that he will do so. This will make Uruguay the second South American country to take this step, after Argentina. The Catholic church fiercely opposed the move in both countries but failed.
Yesterday the French parliament passed the final reading of the bill to legalize same-sex marriage by a vote of 331-225. Surprisingly for a country with a long and proud secular tradition, there have been large and violent protests against this move, perhaps the last gasp of its Catholic heritage. There was greater opposition to adoption by same sex couples, which was also part of the bill, unlike in the US where such adoptions have not created as much controversy as marriage.
The Netherlands was the first country to legalize such marriages, taking this step in 2001. Since then Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Portugal, Denmark, Argentina, Canada, South Africa, Uruguay, France, and New Zealand have joined it. The UK is likely to join this group within the year.
In three countries (Brazil, Mexico, and the US), it is legal in some regions. In the US, the size of the region is increasing with Rhode Island moving to legalize as well. The lower house has already passed the measure and the senate is expected to follow suit soon. Interestingly, all the Republicans in the senate have said they will vote in favor of the bill and the Independent governor, former Republican Lincoln Chafee, has said he will sign the measure. Rhode Island was the lone holdout in New England on this issue. Delaware will likely be next in line.
Here is a speech by a New Zealand member of parliament during their debate, having fun with the scary arguments thrown around by same-sex marriage opponents.