Talk has been stirring for months, but today, progress on legislating marriage equality in New Zealand got a solid bump. Parliament voted 80-40 on the first of three readings.
The author of a bill, lesbian MP Louisa Wall, credits Obama's announcement in May this year. Journalists from AP also take note of the correlation. The Prime Minister John Key announced that he "was not opposed" to marriage equality shortly thereafter.
The most shocking news about the bill comes from ACT minister John Banks, a former vicious opponent of LGBT rights. Gaystarnews reports that he has bowed to pressure from the youth wing of his party. In 1993, Banks said "‘The problem with this homosexual business we've now made legal in his country … is that so many of these creeps have now boldly crept out of the wardrobe.’"
New Zealand has an estimated 4.4 million people and would be the 12th nationwide country to provide marriage rights for LGBT couples, in addition to three that allow it locally (US, Mexico, Brazil). The move places New Zealand with France, Colombia, and Scotland as countries likely to pass marriage equality by 2013.