Same-sex marriage legalized in Argentina

Thursday, July 15, 2010

In the early hours of Thursday July 15, Argentina's senate approved legislation that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, making it the first country in Latin America and the tenth country in the world to do so.

The law, which also allows same-sex couples to adopt, was voted on at 0400 local time (0800 UTC), after 14 hours of debate, and passed with 33 votes in favor to 27 opposed with three abstentions. Since the lower house of Argentina's government has already approved the bill and President Cristina Fernandez is in favor of the bill, it is expected to enter into law in only a few days, once it is published in Argentina's official bulletin.

The legislation, backed by President Fernandez's government, was the subject of a campaign by the Roman Catholic Church and other religious groups, which held rallies against it, including a march on Argentina's Congress, and encouraged citizens to protest the bill. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as part of his opposition to the bill, said that "children need to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a mother."

Members of Senate were divided in their views of the bill. One senator, Juan Perez Alsina, said that "[m]arriage between a man and a woman has existed for centuries, and is essential for the perpetuation of the species." Speaking in favor of the bill, another senator, Daniel Filmus, said that "[s]ociety has grown up. We aren't the same as we were before."

Argentina will become the tenth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriages, after the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, and Iceland. Elsewhere in Latin America, same-sex civil unions have been legalized in Uruguay and in parts of Mexico and Brazil. Mexico City legalized same-sex marriage in 2009.