Argentina approves landmark gay marriage bill

BUENOS AIRES Thu Jul 15, 2010 1:32pm EDT

Argentine senators debate over a same-sex wedding equality bill which was approved in May by the Lower House in Buenos Aires, July 14, 2010. REUTERS/Handout-Prensa Senado

Argentine senators debate over a same-sex wedding equality bill which was approved in May by the Lower House in Buenos Aires, July 14, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Handout-Prensa Senado

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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina has become the first Latin American country to let gay couples marry and adopt children, defying Catholic opposition to join the ranks of a few mostly European nations with similar laws.

Argentina's Senate passed a gay marriage law early on Thursday following more than 14 hours of charged debate, as hundreds of demonstrators rallied outside the Congress in near-freezing temperatures. Senators voted 33-27 for the proposal, with three abstentions.

"We're now a fairer, more democratic society. This is something we should all celebrate," Maria Rachid, a leading gay rights activist, said as supporters of the law hugged each other and jumped up and down after the vote.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez supports gay marriage on human rights grounds and is expected to sign the law after her return from a state visit to China. The proposal cleared Argentina's lower house in May.

Fernandez told state news agency Telam the law was a "positive step that defends minority rights."

A nominally Roman Catholic country, Argentina is now at the vanguard of gay rights in the region.

Church leaders had campaigned against the measure, rallying tens of thousands of opponents, from children to elderly nuns, in a demonstration outside Congress on Tuesday.

But opinion polls show most Argentines support gay marriage.

"Just like with divorce, women's right to vote and civil marriage, with the passage of time we'll be able to appreciate the benefits of this law," Senator Eugenio Artaza told local television.

The Argentine president's backing for the bill has pitted her against the Catholic Church a year before a presidential election.

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, had raised particular concern about the adoption clause of the bill, saying it was important to ensure that children had as role models "both a father and a mother."

Pundits have said Fernandez's stance was meant to help bolster her party's leftist credentials. Nestor Kirchner, Fernandez's predecessor and husband, is widely expected to run again for the presidency in October 2011.

Only a small number of countries permit same-sex marriage, including the Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal and Canada. In the United States, homosexual couples can marry in five states and in the capital, Washington.

Same-sex couples in Mexico City won the same rights as heterosexuals to marry and adopt children in December, under a law passed by city legislators. Uruguay allows same-sex couples to adopt children but not to marry.

Argentina's cosmopolitan capital, Buenos Aires, is known as a "gay friendly" tourist destination.

(Additional reporting by Alexandra Ulmer and Magdalena Morales; Writing by Laura MacInnis and Hilary Burke; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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Comments (5)
billionbucks wrote:
What do you mean “only a small number of countries allow gay marriage” ? The list now stands at:
Argentina
Belgium
Canada
Iceland
Netherlands
Norway
Portugal
South Africa
Spain
Sweden
And countries where particular cities or states allow gay marriage:
Mexico
United States

May the equality of marriage spread across the entire world!

Jul 15, 2010 7:37am EDT  --  Report as abuse
“Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, had raised particular concern about the adoption clause of the bill, saying it was important to ensure that children had as role models “both a father and a mother.”"

Such a tired argument. Does that mean single mothers or fathers shouldn’t be allowed to raise children either? Sheesh.

Jul 15, 2010 9:10am EDT  --  Report as abuse
mpower830 wrote:
Good for Argentina. Now, if only the United States would get past the tired arguments and do the same.

I jsimply don’t think it’s right for a government to be able to tell you who you can’t love and share your life with. As a straight man, I can marry a woman of any race or religion I please. Our gay friends should have the same basic rights if we’re to live up to that “Liberty and justice for all” blurb.

Jul 15, 2010 12:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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