|New Zealand isn't the only country considering the eventual introduction of same-sex marriage proper. So, who are the other nations and what are their prospects?
The United Kingdom, Scotland, Nepal, Luxembourg, Finland, Australia, France, Uruguay and New Zealand are all at various stages of contemplating the opening of civil marriage to include same-sex monogamous couples, and there's also the case of Germany. We're probably familiar enough with the United Kingdom, Australia and France, but what about the other jurisdictions at the 'starters gate' apart from ourselves?
The United Kingdom is currently holding a consultation and is expected to vote on the matter in 2015 Prime Minister David Cameron, modernist Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour support marriage equality, which is expected to pass. In Scotland's devolved Parliament, the ruling Scottish National Party will soon introduce a member's bill for the purpose, although it won't come into effect until 2015, as with the rest of the United Kingdom.
France has announced that it will soon legislate for marriage equality and inclusive adoption reform for French LGBT communities. Nepal was considering a same-sex marriage bill but the parliamentary term ended before it could vote on it.
In Luxembourg, public support is high for same-sex marriage, although not as high as that in recent New Zealand opinion polls- 58% support marriage equality. Although the ruling Christian Social Peoples Party is opposed, its prime minister supports reform, as do other parties in the principality's constituent assembly- the Democratic Party, Luxembourg Socialist Workers Party, the Greens and the Left. Although Luxembourg announced plans to introduce marriage equality in 2009, it has been a prolonged process. In 2010, it was initially drafted but then redrafted in 2012 and resubmitted to Parliament. A vote will not occur until 2013.
Finland is now the only Scandinavian state not to have same-sex marriage. The Finnish Greens, Left Alliance and most of the Social Democratic Party support marriage equality, while much of the Centre Party and National Coalition Party are opposed. Again, public opinion is onside, again, though, with less public support than in New Zealand. In March 2012, a marriage equality bill was handed to the Finnish Parliament and parliamentary supporters are being gathered.
Uruguay's governing Broad Front coalition government stated that it supported marriage equality before entering the country's election race in 2009, and won the resultant election. It submitted the bill to Uruguay's parliament in 2011, although national security legislation is delaying a vote. Overseas same-sex marriages are recognised in Uruguay. A vote is expected before the end of 2012.
There's also Australia, with its backward and fragmented Australian Labor Party federal government, out of touch with mainstream inclusive social democratic equivalent parties overseas, such as British and New Zealand Labour. The Australian Greens are strong supporters of marriage equality, given that their former federal leader, Senator Bob Brown, was a gay man himself. Unfortunately, the Liberal/National Coalition is seriously backward on the issue, and its leader, Tony Abbott, is a fanatical conservative Catholic.
Which contender will pass the 'finish line' first? Given that Finland is now the only Scandinavian nation without full marriage equality, it may lead the pack, although Luxembourg's nearest neighbours, the Netherlands and Belgium, also have same-sex marriage proper. Uruguay is one of the most progressive jurisdictions in South America, and recently legislated for inclusive adoption reform.
Apart from the United Kingdom and Australia, most of the current crop of contenders for marriage equality all have written constitutions, proportional representation electoral systems and supportive and inclusive centre-left, green and classical liberal centre-right parliamentarians willing to vote for equality.
Given impending British/Scottish and French recognition of marriage equality, Germany will shortly become the sole major Western European nation that only recognises registered partnerships (although this may change if a SPD/Green coalition wins the next German federal election). However, the SPD and German Greens have already stated their support for same-sex marriage (in 2004) and has previously voted on same sex marriage in its Bundestag (federal Parliament) in 2011. Even then, the vote for relatively close- 309-260. As with France and Denmark, though, change of government will probably bring progress.
This makes the New Zealand Christian Right's case even weaker. Granted, no Asian nations have yet legislated for marriage equality as yet, but Uruguay will become the second such South American nation if it votes on the matter before the end of this year, behind Argentina.
Given the above, it's time that New Zealand did the same for Australasia. One only wishes that the ALP wasn't so dysfunctional, fragmented and conservative on the issue under debate, and that the valiant struggle of Australians for Marriage Equality might prevail despite ominous signs otherwise.
Recommended: Rodney Croome and Bill Muehlenberg: Why versus Why: Gay Marriage: Neutral Bay, NSW: Pantera: 2010. Wikipedia/Status of same-sex marriage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Status_of_same-sex_marriage Australians for Marriage Equality: http://www.australianmarriageequality.com http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_unions_in_Uruguay http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_Finland http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recognition_of_same-sex_unions_in_Luxembourg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_Nepal http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recognition_of_same-sex_unions_in_Germany "Gay marriage to be introduced in Scotland" BBC News: 25.07.2012: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-18981287 Politics and religion commentator Craig Young - 26th July 2012