Following a wave of recent votes in favor of marriage equality, New Zealand has become the 13th nation to formally recognize same-sex marriages. On Wednesday, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor a new bill that would amend the country's Marriage Act, adding their name to the small, but growing international community that allows gay couples equal footing on civil marriage. Both Uruguay and France passed their own measures just within the last week.

Despite loud protests from opponents of the bill, opinion polls showed New Zealanders were heavily in favor of the changes, with some showing support as high as 70 percent. New Zealand has recognized civil partnerships between gay and lesbian couples since 2005, but the new bill goes even farther.

Supporters cheered loudly in the Parliament chamber when the bill passed by a 77 to 44 vote, and some broke into a traditional Maori love song in celebration. One fan of the move told a local paper, ''After this, it should be all equal and the [debate] can stop. We can forget about it and go with the attitude that most younger people have now, which is why should it be an issue?''

The bill also gives New Zealanders something else they can cheer about: Bragging rights over Australia, which rejected a similar measure last year.