PHOTOS: New Zealand Lesbian Couples Among the First Same-Sex Couples to Wed

PHOTOS: New Zealand Lesbian Couples Among the First Same-Sex Couples to Wed

Lesbian and gay couples in New Zealand began marrying today, as the nation's marriage equality law took effect at 8 a.m. The law was sponsored by lesbian lawmaker Louisa Wall, and received final parliamentary approval by a vote of 77 to 44 in April. New Zealand now becomes the 14th nation worldwide to embrace marriage equality. 

At least 31 couples legally tied the knot in the first half of the day, reports the Washington Blade. The first to marry were Natasha Vitali and Melissa Ray, who wed in an Auckland church just before 9 a.m. local time (5 p.m. Eastern time Sunday in the U.S.). The couple won the honor of being the first to wed, in an all-expenses-paid event sponsored by a local radio station, notes the Blade.

Click through the photos below to see shots from a few of the happy unions that took place in the newly equal New Zealand. 

Natasha Vitali (left) and Melissa Ray (right) exchange rings with officiant Rev. Matt Tittle at the Auckland Unitary Church Monday in Auckland.

Vitali and Ray leave the Auckland Unitary Church in a horse-drawn cart following their wedding. 

Richard Rawstorn (left) with Richard Andrew (center left) from Christchurch, and Jess Ives (right) and Rachel Briscoe (center right) from the Bay of Islands celebrate being among New Zealand's first same-sex couples married during the first such ceremony at the Rotorua Museum Monday. 

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