[JURIST] Argentine President Cristina Fernandez [official website, in Spanish] on Wednesday signed a same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] bill into law. The signing ceremony comes one week after the bill was approved by the legislature [JURIST report], making Argentina the first Latin American nation to legalize same-sex marriage. The legislation, which includes adoption rights for same-sex couples, was approved after 14 hours of debate, despite strong opposition from some lawmakers who introduced an alternative bill that would have allowed civil unions nationwide without adoption rights. At the signing ceremony, Fernandez described the bill as creating a more equal society [statement, in Spanish], stating:
I receive this bill in the name of the whole society in Argentina, even on behalf of those that disagree with it. In a few years this debate will be absolutely anachronistic. … I think [this] constitute[s] a major milestone on the road to equality. … [W]e have not really passed a law, we have enacted a social construct and a good social construct is diverse, it is plural, broad and does not belong to anyone but those who built it: society.
Some Argentine magistrates have stated that they will not perform same-sex marriages [TIME report], despite threats of dismissal if they refuse. The first same-sex marriage under the new law is scheduled for August 13.
The legislation faced strong opposition from the Catholic Church [official website], which organized protests outside of the capitol building during debate on the bill, gathering 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. 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].