Uruguay's House of Representatives [official website, in Spanish] gave final approval on Thursday of the Marriage Equality Law, which allows same-sex couples to marry. Uruguay's Senate approved the bill [JURIST report] last week. The bill passed the lower house of congress with 71 of 92 lawmakers voting in favor [El Pais report, in Spanish], despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church [BBC report] in the predominantly Roman Catholic country. The bill, which is expected to be signed into law by President Jose Mujica [official profile, in Spanish], clarifies rules for adoption and in-vitro fertilization, eliminates "husband and woman" in marriage contracts by replacing those terms with "contracting parties," and allows same-sex couples to chose the order of surnames of the children they adopt. Thursday's vote is the latest in a series of steps towards equality for same-sex couples in Uruguay, with same-sex civil unions, adoption by gay couples and allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the armed forces all being approved in recent years. If the bill is ultimately signed into law, Uruguay will be the twelfth country in the world, and the second in Latin America, to legalize same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] has been controversial globally in recent years. Last week, France's Senate commenced debate of a bill, which was approved [JURIST reports] by the National Assembly in February, that would allow same-sex couples to get married and adopt children. Last month, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)[text, PDF; JURIST report], which defines marriage as between one man and one woman for federal purposes, and Proposition 8 [text, PDF; JURIST report], which amends the California constitution to only recognize marriages between one man and one woman. Also in March, a Native American Tribe in northern Michigan approved [JURIST report] a measure recognizing same-sex marriage. In February, the UK parliament approved [JURIST report] a same-sex marriage bill. In June of 2012, Denmark passed [JURIST report] a same-sex marriage law, making it the eleventh country to do so. In May of 2012, the City of Buenos Aires passed a resolution [JURIST report] to recognize same-sex marriages for non-citizens. That same month, the Israeli Knesset rejected a bill [JURIST report] that would have legalized civil marriages not approved by Jewish Law, including same-sex marriages.