President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner on Wednesday convened a ceremony at the Casa Rosada government house in downtown Buenos Aires to formally sign into law a bill making Argentina the first country in Latin America to legalise marriage for same-sex couples.
“Today we are a society that is a little more egalitarian than last week,” the Buenos Aires Herald quoted President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner as saying at the signing ceremony.
“Life is continually changing us… these issues have to do with the condition of human beings, with aspiring for equality; they’re things that cannot divide us, but should rather unite us… We didn’t take anything away from anyone; we gave rights to those who didn’t have them.”
The president added that her country had not just “enacted a law, but rather a social, transversal, diverse, plural, all-encompassing construction, which doesn’t belong to anyone but society.”
The law, which was approved by the Senate last week following a debate that lasted nearly 15 hours (33 votes in favor, 27 against and 3 abstentions), grants same-sex couples the full legal protections and responsibilities that marriage gives to heterosexual couples, including the ability to inherit property and to jointly adopt children.
The South American country is the tenth in the world – and the first in Latin America – to codify gay marriage.
In a report titled “Gay law in Argentina signals waning Catholic power,” Reuters quoted Ana Maria Bidegain, a religious studies professor at Florida International University, as saying: “Evidently the Church has been losing presence and influence regarding political decisions, which is part of a secularization process… People are still Catholic and they still believe in the fundamentals … but they no longer agree with what (the Church) says regarding morality.”
Civil registries across the country will now begin processing long lists of marriage applications from gay couples. The first such ceremony in Buenos Aires is set for Aug 13.
Nations that have legalised gay marriage (via Time)
• The Netherlands (2000)
• Spain (2005)
• Canada (2005)
• Belgium (2006)
• South Africa (2006)
• Norway (2008)
• Sweden (2009)
• Portugal (2010)
• Iceland (2010)
• Argentina (2010)