[JURIST] The Argentine Senate [official website, in Spanish] on Thursday voted 33-27 to legalize same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive], making Argentina the first Latin American nation to do so. The legislation, which includes adoption rights for same-sex couples, was approved after 14 hours of debate [BBC report]. President Cristina Fernandez [official website, in Spanish] has expressed her support for the bill and is expected to sign it upon her return from abroad. The legislation faced strong opposition from some lawmakers who introduced an alternative bill that would have allowed civil unions nationwide without adoption rights. The bill also faced strong opposition from the Catholic Church [official website], which organized protests outside of the capitol building that gathered more than 60,000 people [AP report]. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio [official website] criticized the legislation, stating that it interfered with a child's right to be raised by a mother and father. Freedom to Marry [advocacy website], a US-based same-sex marriage advocacy group, described the passage as a "human rights achievement" [press release] demonstrating Argentina's movement to "true democratic values." Recent polling has shown that 70 percent [NYT report] of the Argentine public support the legislation.
In May, the Argentine Chamber of Deputies [official website, in Spanish] voted 126-109 in favor [JURIST report] of the bill after 12 hours of debate. The legislation has been under consideration since last year, with more than 50,000 marching in support [JURIST report] of it last November. In September, Uruguay approved a bill granting adoption rights to same-sex couples [JURIST report] and currently is the only country in the region to offer civil unions nationwide. Same-sex marriage is recognized in jurisdictions in Mexico and the US, and is recognized nationwide in Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and South Africa [JURIST reports].