New Zealand Lawmaker Cites Obama Influence on Same-Sex Marriage Bill

As the same-sex marriage debate continues in New Zealand, lawmakers discussing a bill proposing the traditional definition of marriage have said it was inspired by U.S President Barack Obama's endorsement of gay marriage.

One of the sponsors of the bill, Louisa Wall, an openly gay member of the opposition Labor Party, expressed that Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage in May "gave impetus to the bill," The Associated Press shared. The bill was reportedly "picked at random" on Thursday during a parliamentary ballot.

"I hope that it becomes about what marriage means in modern society," Wall said about the legislation. "This bill is based on the premise that everyone should have equal opportunity to recognize their relationship within the social and legal institution of marriage."

"So for me, it's about if two people love each other and marry and commit to each other for the rest of their lives, it should be something we all celebrate," she added.

A number of other important New Zealand politicians have also declared their support for the bill – including Prime Minister John Key, who much like President Obama, "evolved" in his opinion over time and endorsed same-sex marriage in May.

"I think that I have a better perspective [now] because in the end I acknowledge and believe that so long as children have the best parent that they can have . . . that that's the most important thing, rather than the sexuality," expressed Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, who has also changed her opinion on the issue, TVNZ News reported.

A number of other Members of Parliament, however, have stated that civil partnerships should be enough for gay couples, or have said that they support preserving the traditional definition of marriage.

New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser said that he would vote against the bill and fight to preserve the institution of marriage".

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig also insisted that his party was the only one "with a clear policy of supporting the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman".

Others, like Deputy PM Bill English, have called the same-sex marriage issue "not that important" and suggested that "the problem had been solved" with the introduction of civil unions in 2004.

Like many other European countries, New Zealand currently provides for same-sex civil unions. Countries around the world that do offer legalized same-sex marriage include: Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, and select states within the U.S.