South Africa approves marriage equality
It’s the fifth country to do so, further shaming the U.S. (365gay):
The government made last minute changes to the bill, removing language which created separate categories for same and opposite sex unions. It passed the National Assembly 230 to 41.
The new law allows the “voluntary union of two persons, which is solemnized and registered by either a marriage or civil union”.
The government had originally proposed allowing only civil unions for same-sex couples – something that LGBT rights groups and constitutional law experts said created a “separate but equal” status that would be challenged in the Constitutional Court.
…”In large part, the Act signals a rejection of previous attempts to render lesbian and gay people as second-class citizens. It demonstrates powerfully the commitment of our law-makers to ensuring that all human beings are treated with dignity,” said Fikile Vilakazi, a spokesperson for 17 LGBT groups.
The other countries where marriage equality exists are Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, and Spain. Many more countries recognize a patchwork of separate but nearly equal civil unions, domestic partnerships or registered partnerships.