After 14 hours of debate, the Argentine Senate legalised same-sex marriage at 4am today as hundreds of opponents protested outside Congress in the bitter cold. Argentina is the first Latin American country to confer full marriage rights to same-sex couples.
The final vote was 33-27, with three abstentions.
While poles show that 70 percent of Argentines favour same-sex marriage, analysts contend that the real reason for the bill’s passage was largely political. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was looking to prove her efficacy, rally her base and take a stand against the Catholic Church.
Kirchner, who is expected to sign the bill when she returns from a state visit to China, called the law “positive step that defends minority rights.”
The Catholic Church led the opposition, helping to organize thousands in coordinated marches in seven provinces on Tuesday.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, called the law a “destructive attack on God’s plan” on Sunday.
Catholics within the Senate also promoted alternative legislation – civil unions that would not allow same-sex partners to adopt – that ultimately failed.
Mexico City legalised same-sex marriage in March, and Uruguay and Colombia permit civil unions.