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Topics In the News
 
Uruguay's Senate Passes Marriage Equality Legislation
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 04/02/13
Last updated on: 04/02/13
 
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On April 2, 2013, Uruguay's Senate passed marriage equality legislation, placing the country on target to become South America's second nation to permit same-sex marriage nation-wide. Despite fierce opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, the bill passed both houses of parliament by overwhelming votes. The House of Representatives passed the legislation on a 81 to 6 vote in December; the vote in the Senate was 23 to 8.

As Michael Lavers reports in the Washington Blade, the Senate passed the bill after several hours of debate.

During the debate Senator Rafael Michelini compared the extension of marriage rights to same-sex couples in Uruguay as a "profound modification" for society that one could compare to the abolition of slavery and the law that established an eight hour work day.

Before it becomes law, the bill passed by the Senate must return to the House of Representatives to reconcile some minor differences and then on to the desk of President José Mujica, who has pledged to sign it.

If the bill becomes law, Uruguay will become the second country in South America--after its neighbor, Argentina--to provide equal marriage rights to all its same-sex couples.

Mexican gay and lesbian couples have been able to marry in Mexico City since 2010, while a recent ruling by the country's high court legalized same-sex marriage in Oaxaca and promises to establish marriage equality nationally there as well.

Same-sex couples in Colombia will automatically receive full marriage rights in June if the country's lawmakers do not act upon a court ruling that orders them to legislate the matter. Colombia's Senate is considering a measure that would legalize nuptials for gays and lesbians, though the legislation is not expected to pass.

Same-sex marriages are also recognized in some states of Brazil.

Uruguay has been in the vanguard of progressive social change in South America. In 2008, it became the first Latin American country to adopt a national civil union law, the Ley de Unión Concubinaria. The law permits both same-sex and opposite-sex couples to enter into a civil union after living together for at least five years. Couples in civil unions are entitled to most of the benefits that married couples are afforded, including social security entitlements, inheritance rights, and joint ownership of goods and property. In addition, same-sex couple are permitted joint adoption rights.

In December, when the House of Representatives passed the marriage equality bill, Deputy Nicolás Núñez said "We are ending decades of institutionalized discrimination from the state."

"Today, we are a step further toward becoming a more democratic and just society," Álvaro Queiruga of the glbtq advocacy group Colectivo Ovejas Negras said then. "The LGBT population will no longer be denied an essential right such as this one. We are very happy today, and this will empower us to continue our fight for a better Uruguay without second class citizens due to their sexual orientation or gender identity."

The video below reports on the ruling party's endorsement of marriage equality in August.

 
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