Today, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage when 33 senators voted in favor of the bill, with 27 opposed and three abstaining.
The new law grants gays and lesbians all the same legal rights, responsibilities and protections of marriage as heterosexual couples. With the strong support of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, it is expected to be published in the official bulletin and enter into force within days.
The 16-hour debate on the bill stretched on last night into the early morning hours, as both protestors and supporters rallied outside the Senate. In recent days, over 60,000 marched to oppose the bill, organized by evangelicals and the Catholic Church, but today, supporters are celebrating.
(In the Winter issue of AQ, Mitchell A. Seligson and Daniel E. Moreno Morales compared tolerance toward gays and lesbians across the hemisphere. Argentina, with the U.S. and Uruguay was among the most tolerant according to the AmericasBarometer survey.)
While the gay rights movement has led to civil unions in Uruguay, Buenos Aires and individual states in Mexico and Brazil, the Argentina law will go further, allowing the full rights of marriage to gays and lesbians nationwide. Argentina joins South Africa, Canada and seven European countries in legalizing same-sex marriage: the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, and Iceland.