Ar­gentina OKs same-sex mar­riage

it joins canada as only na­tions in the amer­i­cas to ex­pand such rights

Austin American-Statesman - - FRIDAY BRIEFING - By Juan Forero

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.”

Rolando An­drade Stracuzzi

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