by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Argentina's House of Deputies passed a historic marriage equality bill on May 5 following 11 hours of debate on the House floor.
The bill includes both the right to marry and the right to adopt children. The adoption provision was especially controversial.
The vote was 125-109, with Socialists and smaller leftist parties joining the supporters of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to pass the measure.
Party leaders instructed their members to "vote their conscience" rather than the party line earlier in the day. Most leftist members were already on record in support of marriage equality, however.
Some right-wing lawmakers also supported the bill, but most of the Peronists - followers of the late dictator Juan Peron - voted against the measure.
Marriage equality supporters displayed a huge banner from the visitors' gallery which said mockingly, "Putos Peronistas" ("Peronist Fags").
After the vote, supporters of the measure erupted in cheers and unfurled rainbow flags down the side walls of the legislative hall. Outside, small groups of supporters gathered to watch the proceedings on a live feed, or to follow the debate on Twitter.
"Love isn't owned by heterosexuals," said Deputy Felipe Sola, who backed the bill. "If we're all equal before the law, why do we want to give a different name to unions between same-sex couples?"
Maria Rachid, director of The Argentinian LGBT Federation (FALGBT), told Argentine TV reporters that it was the first time a national legislature had voted in favor of same-sex marriage in Latin America.
Mexico City's legislature passed a marriage equality bill December 21, 2009, but that law only applies to the Federal District surrounding Mexico City, not to the whole country. The Mexican law also does not address adoptions.
Alex Freyre and Nino Di Bello, the first same-sex couple to be married in Argentina, were on the House floor observing the debate. They were married last December, but a court subsequently annulled their marriage.
Four Gay couples and one Lesbian couple have been married in Argentina, but only two of the marriages remain legally valid.
The Argentine Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on the legality of same-sex marriages, but it is widely assumed that the justices would prefer to have Argentina's Congress act first.
The bill now goes to the Argentine Senate, which is considered more conservative than the House of Deputies.
The FALGBT's Rachid said she does not expect the Senate to reject the measure.
"We've talked to the heads of the political blocs [in the Senate] and the majority are in favor of this, so we think we could get a favorable vote in the Senate as well," she said.
If the law is passed in the Senate, Argentina would be the first country in predominantly Roman Catholic Latin America to allow same-sex marriages. Neighboring Uruguay grants extensive rights, including adoptions, to same-sex couples in civil unions but does not allow them to marry.
Roman Catholic leaders have denounced same-sex marriage as "perverse" and immoral, but the marriage bill has not sparked much public controversy in Argentina. Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital, is a cosmopolitan and Gay-friendly city with many hotels, nightclubs, and shops catering to Gay tourists.
Share on Facebook
Share on Delicious
Share on StumbleUpon!