Yesterday, New Zealand became the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize same-sex marriage. The bill passed in a vote of 77 to 44 during its third and final reading, despite mounting opposing from Christian lobby groups, and is expected to go into effect in four months.
Lousia Wells, the bill's sponsor, released a statement saying 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." A member of the rival party, Prime Minister John Key, also vocalized support for the bill. Key told reporters "In my view, marriage is a very personal thing between two individuals... And, in the end, this is part of equality in modern-day New Zealand."
Hundreds of couples celebrated outside of parliament after the bill was passed. One of the people celebrating told reporters, "For us, we can now feel equal to everyone else... This means we can feel safe and fair and right in calling each other wife and wife." Opinion polls show that roughly two thirds of New Zealand citizens support same-sex marriage, although other polls had this number closer to 50%.
New Zealand is now the 13th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Last week, Uruguay passed a bill legalizing same sex marriage, which is expected to be signed into law by President Jose Mujica.
Media Resources: Associated Press 4/17/2013; BBC 4/17/2013; CNN International 4/17/2013; Statement of Louisa Wall 4/17/2013
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/29/2014 North Dakota Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Restrictions - The North Dakota Supreme Court yesterday upheld a set of misguided restrictions on medication abortion, allowing what is effectively a ban on early, non-surgical abortions in the state to go into effect immediately.
The decision overturned a lower court order finding the law, known as HB 1297, unconstitutional and permanently blocking its enforcement. . . .