Uruguay, ever attractive to many expats for its relaxed and predominantly liberal ways, has become the second Latin American country to legalize gay marriage. Argentina also supports gay marriage, and Mexico City, the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, and the Brazilian state of Alagoas also allow gay marriage.
Civil unions have been allowed since 2008, but the recent bill goes so far as to state that “civil marriage is the permanent union, pursuant of the law, of two people of different or the same sex”. 71 out of 92 members of parliament voted in favor of the bill. Uruguay’s Roman Catholic Church asked lawmakers to vote their conscience and challenged the label of “marriage equality” as a false pretext, saying it’s “not justice but an inconsistent assimilation that will only further weaken marriage.”
“We will have a fairer, more equal society with more rights for all,” said SebastiánSabini, deputy of la coaliciónoficialistaFrenteAmplio (FA).
“I have all the rights and obligations of everyone else. I pay my taxes and fulfil my responsibilities, why would I be discriminated against?” said Roberto Acosta, a 62-year-old retired gay man.
“We are living a historic moment,” said Federico Grana, a leader of the Black Sheep Collective, a gay rights group that drafted the proposal. “I agree that family is the basis of society but I also believe that love is the basis of family. And love is neither homosexual nor heterosexual,” said opposition lawmaker Fernando Amado of the center-right Colorado Party.”In terms of the steps needed, we calculate that the first gay couples should be getting married 90 days after the promulgation of the law, or in the middle of July 2013.”
Gay and lesbian foreigners will now be allowed to come to Uruguay to marry, just as straight couples can.
While some countries have carved out new territory for gay and lesbian couples without affecting heterosexual married couples, Uruguay is creating a single set of rules for all people, whether they are gay or straight. Instead of the words “husband and wife” in marriage contracts, it refers to the gender-neutral “contracting parties”.All couples will get to decide which parent’s surname comes first when they have children. Any couple can adopt or undergo in-vitro fertilization procedures.
The legislation also updated divorce laws in Uruguay, which in 1912 gave women only the right to unilaterally renounce their wedding vows as a sort of equalizer to male power. Now either partner will be able to unilaterally request a divorce and get one approved. The law also raises the age when people can legally marry. While it used to be 12 years old for girls and 14 for boys, it is now 16 for both genders.
President Mujicahas recently been pushing for a series of liberal laws. Congress agreed to decriminalize abortion, butMujica suspended his efforts to put the government in charge of the marijuana business, saying that society should reach a consensus on that idea first.
In all, 12 nations around the world now have taken this step.Same-sex marriage is currently legal in much of Europe including Spain, Netherlands, Norway, and Belgium.
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