Wellington, New Zealand - New Zealand lawmakers have cast a first vote in favour of a gay marriage law that was given impetus by President Barack Obama's public support of the issue.

Wednesday's 78 to 40 vote is the first of three Parliament must take before the bill can become law, a process that typically takes several months. Only a simple majority was needed to ensure a second vote.

Should New Zealand pass the measure into law, it would become the 12th country since 2001 to recognize same-sex marriages. Some U.S. states also recognize such marriages, but the federal government does not. In May, Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage.

Polls indicate about two-thirds of New Zealanders support gay marriage. It also has the support of most of the country's political leaders. - Sapa-AP