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Uruguay becomes second Latam country to legalize gay marriage

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay—Uruguayan lawmakers voted to legalize gay marriage, making the South American country the third in the Americas to do so after Canada and Argentina. The bill was approved by the Lower House with 71 of the 92 lawmakers present voting in favor Wednesday night. The Senate approved the legislation 23 votes to 8 earlier this month. President José Mujica is widely expected to sign the bill into law within the coming weeks. Supporters of the bill seated in the galleries of the lower house burst into cheers and waived gay pride flags after the vote. "This is a very special day, a historic day for Uruguay. The country is settling its debts with a large number of citizens who for the simple fact of loving someone of the same sex have suffered bullying and harassment," Federico Graña, a member of local activist group Ovejas Negras, or Black Sheep, was quoted as saying by local news portal Espectador. The Catholic Church through the Uruguayan Episcopal Conference said lawmakers weren't taking into account the legal consequences of the bill and how it might affect society's views of family. Ahead of the vote, the Church had asked lawmakers to vote their conscience and challenged the label of "marriage equality" as a false pretext, saying it is "not justice but an inconsistent assimilation that will only further weaken marriage." Under the new law gay couples will be able to marry for the first time, with the same legal rights and responsibilities as married couples of the opposite sex. Previously, gay couples enjoyed some legal recognition and were allowed to adopt children. Some Uruguayan same-sex couples also married in Argentina, where gay marriage has been legal since 2010, and then sought legal recognition of their Argentine marriage in Uruguay. The bill also raises the minimum age for marriage to 16 years for all Uruguayans, from the present age of 12 for girls and 14 for boys. Uruguay is now the 12th country in the world to make same-sex marriage legal on a nationwide level, Human Rights Watch. The country has a long history of progressive social legislation. In the early 20th century, it was an early adopter of a minimum wage and labor laws that protect workers.

Source: The Wall Street Journal - 11/04/2013


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