Moral Low Ground


Uruguay Legalizes Gay Marriage

Uruguay has become the second nation in Latin America and the 12th in the world to achieve marriage equality after the country’s Congress approved a measure to legalize same-sex marriages.

The BBC reports that the lower chamber of Uruguay’s legislature overcame strong opposition from the Catholic church and followed the upper house, which voted 23-8 last week in favor of the Marriage Equality Law. Fully 71 out of 92 deputies in the lower chamber voted to approve same-sex marriage.

The new law replaces the words ‘husband’ and ‘woman’ in marriage contracts with ‘contracting parties,’ allows couples– gay or straight– to choose the order of surnames of adopted children, increases the age of sexual consent to a 16 (up from 12 for women and 14 for men) and clarifies in-vitro fertilization rules.

LGBT activists attending the congressional session in the capital Montevideo shouted “freedom!” after the results of the vote were announced.

“We are living a historic moment,” Federico Graña, a lawmaker from the ruling Frente Amplio coalition and a member of the LGBT advocacy group Black Sheep Collective, said after the vote.

“We’re definitely going to feel now that we live in a place where we’re recognized for who we are, where we get more respect and acceptance,” Damian Diaz, a 25-year-old in a committed relationship with another man, told Reuters.

Opponents lamented the measure’s passage.

“[The law] distorts and changes the nature of the institution of marriage,” opposition lawmaker Gerardo Amarilla told the Guardian.

President José Mujica, a former leftist guerrilla, supports marriage equality and will sign the bill into law in the coming days.

“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,” Graña said.

Uruguay will now join neighboring Argentina as the only Latin American nations to have granted full marriage equality to its citizens. Some Brazilian states, and Mexico’s capital district, also allow gay marriage. Ten other nations besides Argentina have also legalized same-sex marriage: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden. Nine US states, the District of Columbia and three Native American tribes have also legalized gay marriage.

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