Argentina has legalised same-sex marriage, becoming the first country in Latin America to declare that gays and lesbians have all the legal rights, responsibilities and protections that marriage brings to heterosexual couples.
After a marathon debate in Argentina's senate, 33 lawmakers voted in favour, 27 against and three abstained in a vote that ended after 4am yesterday. Since the lower house already approved it and President Cristina Fernandez is a strong supporter, it becomes law as soon as it is published in the official bulletin, which should happen within days.
The law is sure to bring a wave of marriages by gays and lesbians who have found Buenos Aires to be a welcoming place to live. But same-sex couples from other countries shouldn't rush their Argentinian wedding plans, since only citizens and residents can wed in the country and the necessary documents can take months to obtain.
The approval came despite a concerted campaign by the Roman Catholic Church and evangelical groups, which drew 60,000 people to march on Congress and urged parents in churches and schools to work against passage. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio led the campaign, saying: "Children need to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a mother."