WELLINGTON - New Zealand's parliament voted in favor of allowing same-sex marriage on Wednesday, prompting cheers, applause and the singing of a traditional Maori celebratory song from the public gallery.
Seventy-seven of 121 members of parliament voted in favor of amending the current 1955 Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry, making New Zealand the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to do so.
"Two-thirds of parliament have endorsed marriage equality," Louisa Wall, the openly gay opposition Labour Party MP who promoted the bill, told reporters after the vote. "It shows that we are building on our human rights as a country."
The bill was widely expected to pass, given similar support for the change in a preliminary vote held last month. It will likely come into effect in August.