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Uruguay Senate Votes to Legalize Gay Marriage

Uruguay gay marriage

(Photo: Brett Wilkins)

Uruguay’s senate has voted to legalize same-sex marriage, bringing the South American nation one step closer to becoming the 12th nation to achieve marriage equality.

The Associated Press reports that the Uruguayan Senate voted 23-8 in favor of a bill that allows couples, gay or straight, to decide whose surname goes first when naming children. The measure also replaces the words “husband and woman” in marriage contracts with the gender neutral “contracting parties.” Additionally, it clarifies adoption and in-vitro fertilization rules.

“It goes beyond homosexuality,” Federico Graña, a lawmaker from the ruling Frente Amplio coalition and a member of the LGBT advocacy group Black Sheep Collective, told the AP. “It’s about a law where everyone shares the same rights and obligations.”

“This is an issue of liberty, of people’s choice and of justice,” Sen. Rafael Michelini asserted. “Liberty because the state should not meddle in who you marry, of justice because if you marry abroad with someone of the same sex and later return to Uruguay, your marriage should be recognized.”

Eleven countries have achieved full marriage equality: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and neighboring Argentina, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2010. Eleven Brazilian states and nine US states plus the District of Columbia have also legalized same-sex marriage.

The Uruguayan bill now heads down to the lower chamber of Congress for a vote. If the measure passes there, President José Mujica has signalled that he will sign it into law.

The Uruguayan Roman Catholic Church opposes marriage equality. But Uruguay is known as the most socially liberal South American nation. Civil unions are already legal there, as is abortion. Uruguay also plans to become the first nation on earth to sell marijuana to citizens who register to purchase it in a bold bid to combat drug-related crime.

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