New Zealand Close to Legalizing Gay Marriage

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Same-sex marriage is likely to be legal soon in New Zealand.

Lawmakers recently passed a bill, 77-44, allowing gay marriage, in the second of three votes that has to be taken before a bill becomes law.

Some 200 mostly young people watched the debate from the visitor's galley, cheering for legislators who supported the bill.

"I'm very excited, as excited as the young people," said the bill's sponsor, Louisa Wall, who is gay. "It's a fantastic result."

"The role of the state in marriage is to issue a license to two people who love each other and want to commit to one another formally," she said earlier in her remarks supporting the legislation. "That's what this bill does."

The third vote is likely to be little more than a formality.

New Zealand already has civil union laws that give many legal rights to gay couples.

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