Country becomes 13th to legalize gay marriage

Hundreds of jubilant gay-rights advocates celebrated at New Zealand’s Parliament on Wednesday as the country became the 13th in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize same-sex marriage.

Lawmakers voted 77 to 44 in favor of the gay-marriage bill.

People watching from the public gallery and some lawmakers immediately broke into song after the result was announced, singing the New Zealand love song “Pokarekare Ana” in the indigenous Maori language.

CARACAS, Venezuela

High court president: No basis for manual recount

Venezuela’s Supreme Court president said Wednesday there is no legal basis for holding a vote-by-vote recount that opposition candidate Henrique Capriles is demanding for the disputed presidential election.

It was the latest indication that the governing system left behind by Hugo Chavez has no intention of agreeing to Capriles’ request. He claims Sunday’s election was stolen from him.

Capriles has not formally filed a request for a recount with the National Electoral Council, which on Monday ratified Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’s anointed successor, as the winner. The council says Maduro won with 50.8 percent of the vote to Capriles’ 49 percent.

Judge Luisa Estela Morales, the Supreme Court chief, said Venezuela’s voting system is so automated that a manual count doesn’t exist. Technically, however, a recount is possible as paper receipts are issued for every vote cast and can be checked against tallies done by each voting machine, voter registries and centralized records.

“This presumed instigation to a manual count has angered many Venezuelans,” said Morales, whose court is packed with Chavista loyalists.

— From news service reports