A law legalizing same-sex marriage in New Zealand takes effect today.

The country’s Births, Deaths, and Marriages department reported that 31 same-sex couples planned to wed the first day the law went into effect. They also reported that over 1,000 marriage applications were downloaded in a week since they became available for same sex couples, about three times the average download rate. New Zealand is the 14th country worldwide to legalize same-sex marriage and is the first in the Asia-Pacific.

Paul McCarthy, an Australian resident who married his partner Trent Kandler , told Reuters “Being able to marry here as an equal citizen, even though we’re not citizens of this country, means we’re being viewed as equal – and that’s all we really want.”

Reverend Matt Tittle, who performed the ceremony for another same sex couple who took advantage of the new law, told reporters, “The world is still a dangerous and even deadly place for gay, bisexual and transgender people. We thank God that’s not true in New Zealand. All love is holy.”
The law was passed by Parliament in April by a vote of 77 to 40, despite opposition from religious groups.

Media Resources: AAP 8/19/2013; BBC 8/19/2013; Reuters 8/19/2013; Feminist Newswire 4/18/2013

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