Thursday, July 15, 2010

Argentina legalises same-sex marriage

After a marathon debate, 33 lawmakers voted in favour, 27 were against it and 3 abstained in the senate, making Argentina the first Latin American country to legalise gay weddings

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: Argentina legalised same-sex marriage on Thursday, becoming the first country in Latin America to grant gays and lesbians all the legal rights, responsibilities and protection that marriage brings to heterosexual couples.
After a marathon debate, 33 lawmakers voted in favour, 27 were against it and 3 abstained in Argentina’s Senate in a vote that ended after 4 am.
Since the lower house already approved it, and President Cristina Fernandez is a strong supporter, it now becomes law as soon as it is published in the official bulletin.
The law is sure to bring a wave of marriages by gays and lesbians who have increasingly found Buenos Aires to be more accepting than many other places in the region. The approval came despite a concerted campaign by the Roman Catholic Church and evangelical groups, which drew 60,000 people to march on Congress and urged parents in churches and schools to work against passage.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio said “everyone loses” with gay marriage, and “children need to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a mother”.
Nine gay couples had already married in Argentina after persuading judges that the constitutional mandate of equality supports their marriage rights, but some of these marriages were later declared invalid.
As the debate stretched on for nearly 16 hours, supporters and opponents held vigils through the frigid night outside the Congress building in Buenos Aires.
“Marriage between a man and a woman has existed for centuries, and is essential for the perpetuation of the species,” insisted Sen Juan Perez Alsina, who is usually a loyal supporter of the president but gave a passionate speech against gay marriage.
But Sen. Norma Morandini, another member of the president’s party, compared the discrimination closeted gays face to the oppression imposed by Argentina’s dictators decades ago.
“What defines us is our humanity, and what runs against humanity is intolerance,” she said.
Same-sex civil unions have been legalised in Uruguay, Buenos Aires and some states in Mexico and Brazil. AGENCIES

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