Argentina OKs same-sex marriage
it joins canada as only nations in the americas to expand such rights
With advocates for gay rights watching worldwide, Argentina early Thursday legalized same-sex marriages to become the first country in Latin America to grant same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.
After 14 hours of sometimes heated debate that lasted nearly until dawn, the Senate voted 33-27 to approve the Marriage for People of the Same Sex bill, which had been approved by the lower house in May and was strongly supported by President Cristina Fernandez.
Argentina becomes the second country in the Americas, after Canada, to approve marriages for gays and lesbians.
Gay rights activists from the United States to Europe who had been following the debate said the approval would help hasten similar measures in other countries.
“I think people will look to it as very important,” Dan Hawes, who oversees organizing nationwide for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said in Washington. “Every win we have gives momentum and hope to people everywhere, including activists in the United States working for the right to marry.”
Tens of thousands of activists — some supportive of and others opposed to same-sex unions — had marched on the country’s Congress building in Buenos Aires.
One opponent quietly held a statue of the Virgin Mary and prayed. Others shouted slogans, demanding that gay couples receive the same privileges and rights as heterosexual ones.
When the final tally was announced, supporters of the measure erupted in cheers.
Fernandez, speaking from China, where she was on a state visit, said she was “very satisfied with the vote.”
“This has been a positive step After a debate marathon, Argentine senators approved the marriage bill 33-27. Early Thursday, same-sex marriage supporters gather in Buenos Aires. in defending minority rights,” she said.
The approval is a blow to the Catholic Church, which has strongly opposed gay marriages.
In Latin America, only Mexico City had approved same-sex marriages. On Thursday, Mexico City officials offered a free honeymoon in Mexico to the first gay couple to wed under the new Argentine law.
Colombia’s highest court last year gave same-sex partners nearly all the rights found in common-law unions. Uruguay’s Congress also recognized same-sex civil unions.
“In some northern countries, they said these advances could never happen in our region,” said Marcela Sanchez, of Colombia Diversa, an advocacy group on gay issues in the Colombian capital, Bogotá. “But now we are seeing movement forward in a number of places.”