New Zealand became the 13th country to legalize same-sex marriage on Wednesday, when members of parliament voted 77 to 44 to amend the 1955 Marriage Act. After the votes were read, loud cheering and applause broke out in the room. Then, something even more heartwarming happened: The lawmakers spontaneously started to sing!
The song, “Pokarekare Ana,” is a Maori love song. It includes suitably emotional lyrics for a moment that marriage equality activists had been pushing for since same-sex civil unions were legalized in 2005: “The waves are breaking / against the shores of Waiapu / My heart is aching / for your return, my love.” After the song, the room celebrated again with cheers, applause and hugs.
(Skip to 01:18 for the song)
Labour MP and openly gay sponsor of the Marriage Equality Bill, Louisa Wall, said that she was “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.” MP Maurice Williamson delivered a witty and crowd-pleasing speech in support of the bill, tearing down the “bullying tactics” of the bill’s opponents and promising those worried about negative effects of the new law that “the sun will still rise tomorrow … so don’t make this into a big deal!”
New Zealand joins the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark and Uruguay in having passed laws for marriage equality.