New ZealandAs first reported by the Associated Press on Wednesday, lawmakers in New Zealand voted 77 to 44 in favor of the gay-marriage bill which has gay-rights advocates and the LGBT community in New Zealand celebrating a day that will go down in history.

With the victory, New Zealand has become the 13th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage and the first nation in the Asia-Pacific region. This is beyond special for gays and lesbians in New Zealand and throughout the world; it is a symbolism of commitment and a victory in equality.

Luisa Wall, sponsor of the gay marriage bill gave a speech which landed her a standing ovation as she announced her pride of being a New Zealander.

“In our society, the meaning of marriage is universal – it’s a declaration of love and commitment to a special person. Nothing could make me more proud to be a New Zealander than passing this bill.”

Many people are still opposed to same-sex marriage in New Zealand but the vote from lawmakers was encouraged by their conscience rather than political party lines.

Prime Minister John Key, who supported the bill, was very encouraged by lawmakers and believes “marriage is a very personal thing between two individuals” and thus is “part of equality in modern-day New Zealand.”

New Zealand joins the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina and Denmark as countries where same-sex marriage is recognized. Uruguay, where a bill was approved last week, is expected to join the nations where gays and lesbians have the equal right to marriage. In the United States, nine states currently recognize same-sex marriage.