Marriage Equality Virtually Assured Passage in New Zealand After Winning Critical Vote

New Zealand is poised to pass marriage equality as lawmakers approved the legislation in an overwhelming vote of confidence in the second of three readings today, the AP reports:

NewzealandLawmakers supported the bill 77 to 44 in the second of three votes needed for a bill to be approved. The second vote is typically the most crucial one. The third and final vote is likely to be little more than a formality and could be taken as early as next month.

Wednesday’s vote came after a committee of lawmakers considered emails and letters from thousands of New Zealanders.

More than 200 people crammed into the Parliament’s public gallery to watch lawmakers debate the bill before they voted at about 10:15 p.m. The mostly young crowd clapped and cheered for lawmakers who spoke in support of the bill, and sat in silence for those who spoke in opposition.

The New Zealand Herald adds:

The bill is likely to return to Parliament for the committee stage at the end of the month, when MPs would pick through the legislation clause by clause.

It could be passed as soon as next month, after which there was a four-month stand-down period before same-sex and transgender marriages could take place.