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Argentine Senate Votes to Legalize Gay Marriage!

Argentine Senate Votes to Legalize Gay Marriage!

On Thursday, Argentina’s Senate voted in favor of legalizing gay marriage by 33 votes to 27 with three abstentions, making Argentina the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage.

The bill, which grants same-sex couples all the rights, responsibilities and benefits of heterosexual marriage, including the right to jointly adopt, was debated in the Senate for around 14 hours. Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies already passed the legislation just a few weeks ago. The legislation has become a flagship piece of legislation for President Cristina Fernandez’s center-left government though the debate in fact split both major political parties. The president is expected to sign the bill into law within the next few days.

From the Associated Press:

“From today onward, Argentina is a more just and democratic country,” said Maria Rachid, president of the Argentine Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender federation. The law “not only recognizes the rights of our families, but also the possibility of having access to health care, to leave a pension, to leave our assets to the people with whom we have shared many years of life, including our children,” she said.

The 33-27 Senate vote was tallied shortly before dawn, after a marathon debate that touched on religion, ethics, the legacy of Argentina’s dictatorship and the challenges of raising children. There were three abstentions. Since the lower house already approved it, the law takes effect within days.

Gays and lesbians who have already found Buenos Aires to be a welcoming place to live will likely rush to the altar, but same-sex couples from other countries will need to live in Argentina before becoming eligible, and the necessary residency documents can take months to obtain.

The passage of the bill was not without controversy. Determined to oppose the bill and bring that message directly to Argentina’s lawmakers, approximately 60,000 people marched on Congress with Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a leading voice of opposition, organizing the event and commenting “children need to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a mother.” While civil unions proved quite controversial also, they did win support with a substantial body of religious conservatives with the caveat of a ban on same-sex couples adopting, yet, in granting gay marriage rights, Argentina has managed to bypass civil unions and has achieved full equality.

Civil unions for same-sex partners have been legal in Uruguay and some states in Mexico and Brazil for quite a while now. Gay marriage is also legal in Mexico City.

Even before this historic vote there had been a couple of same-sex marriages in other areas of Argentina. Gay couples were able to obtain marriage licenses through challenging Argentina’s gay marriage ban on the grounds that it was unconstitutional, whereby they could receive individual permission to marry, but these challenges have met with mixed success and, for obvious reasons, were laborious and costly for the parties involved.

This issue was perhaps brought into focus by gay couple Alex Freyre and Jose Maria di Bello who attempted to marry on December 1 of last year after managing to secure permission from a lower court in Buenos Aires. This was immediately challenged by a higher court who, not disputing the right to same-sex civil marriage as such, contested the lower court’s power to make such a ruling. The couple eventually did marry, but their case was set to go before the Supreme Court at some point next year. Obviously, with the legalization of same-sex marriages this now becomes redundant. You can read more about Alex Freyre and Jose Maria di Bello’s story here.

With the bill signed, Argentina joins Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Belgium, Sweden, Portugal and Iceland in allowing gay marriage.

Nepal looks set to be the next country to legalize same-sex marriage as lawmakers are busy hammering out a new constitution that will grant a broad set of rights and protections for gay and lesbian couples. 

But, for today, congratulations to Argentina!

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Jeff Belmonte.

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241 comments

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7:03AM PST on Feb 3, 2011

Paul, Paul, those innocent orphans, where did and do they come from? Heterosexuals, I presume. And the children that lives in happy same gender homes, don't they deserve protection? Or maybe, they are already doomed and on their way to hell because their parents are gay? Paul, you miss out so much in life when not having friends in different corners of society. Do you have any friends born in another country, of a different skin color, of different genders, any LGBTs amoung your friends, anyone you know who is either a non-christian or a non-believer, or a democrat, republican or independent? Just asking because you come across as someone with a very close-minded list of people you hang out with. Which is not good for you, because we all need the influence of a diverse society. Good luck, Paul, on your way to find that everything in life isn't either black or white, good or evil, heaven or hell!

And a big Hooray for Argentine and the rest of the civilized world for realizing equality pays off!

3:21PM PDT on Aug 8, 2010

Martha & Shirlene, I admire both of you for not wishing to adopt orphans and don't get me wrong, I and virtually every heterosexual I speak with think the same way I do and that is that homosexuals can live the life they want to live so long as it is in private and it doesn't change society or destroy religion in the process.

7:47PM PDT on Aug 7, 2010

i guess you don't know very much about sex and love do you Paul??

9:58AM PDT on Aug 7, 2010

Heather G, Neither God or evolution gave people of the same sex the gift of copulation, in fact evolution definitely wouldn't have got started if your claim was true and God clearly states that fornication between people of the same sex puts them on a one way path to hell

9:57AM PDT on Aug 7, 2010

Heather G, Neither God nor evolution gave people of the same sex the gift of copulation, in fact evolution definitely wouldn't have got started if your claim was true and God clearly states that fornication between people of the same sex puts them on a one path to hell on a hand cart.

8:18PM PDT on Aug 4, 2010

Thanks for your article Steve. And thanks for your efforts to improve LGTB rights worldwide.

7:54AM PDT on Aug 2, 2010

Paul, you should try to accept the SHOCKING fact God also gave the gift of love between people of the SAME sex!!

6:12AM PDT on Jul 31, 2010

LOL! Well, Paul, you'll be happy to hear that these 53 yr old lesbians have no intentions of trying to adopt any children. Glad we can help!

5:33AM PDT on Jul 31, 2010

A man marrying another man or a woman marrying another woman and then demanding the right to adopt innocent orphans is not just a joke anymore, its a nightmare and should be resisted at all costs before it destroys the very fabric of our society and all that heterosexuals have fought for since human evolution began.

10:29AM PDT on Jul 30, 2010

Heather G, homosexuals always use the arguement that they were born gay when it suits them and then use the arguement that they chose a homosexual lifestyle because it was their right and if it feels good, do it. The truth is, they refuse to accept the shocking fact that homosexuality is a perversion of a God given gift of love between a MAN and a WOMAN and all the MAN MADE LAWS under the SUN will NOT change this fact, LEARN TO LIVE WITH THE TRUTH and pray that the Lord will forgive you your sins. I feel sorry for all those homosexuals who are missing out on heterosexual relationships and the reward of the fruit it produces when a child of love is born by that natural act of love. Repent and be forgiven and prayer will heal your sick mind, trust in God and be witness to the miracle of prayer. God be with you Heather.

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