Earlier today Argentina became the tenth nation in the world, and the first in Latin America, to legally recognize same-sex marriages. Under the law passed today by the Argentine Senate, and expected to be enacted soon by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, same-sex couples gain the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples, including the right to adopt children.
From Michael Warren of the Associated Press:
The law's passage — a priority for President Cristina Fernandez's government — has inspired activists to push for similar laws in other countries, and a wave of gay weddings are expected in Buenos Aires. Some gay business leaders are predicting an economic ripple effect from an increase in tourism among gays and lesbians who will see Argentina as an even more attractive destination.But it also carries political risks for Fernandez and her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner. The vote divided their governing coalition, and while gay rights have strong support in the capital, anti-gay feelings still run strong in much of Argentine society, where the vast majority of people are Roman Catholic.
"From today onward, Argentina is a more just and democratic country," said Maria Rachid, president of the Argentine Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender federation. The law "not only recognizes the rights of our families, but also the possibility of having access to health care, to leave a pension, to leave our assets to the people with whom we have shared many years of life, including our children," she said.
It is a great day, a mark of how far we have come, to see Catholic Argentina legalize same-sex marriage. But it is also a reminder of how far most of us have yet to go. Instead of leading the revolution against anti-gay bigotry, the United States has lagged behind. The president and legislators of Argentina showed something we have seen far too little of in our own houses of congress: courage. Knowing the measure would be unpopular with some, knowing it would be a difficult and perhaps costly fight, the supporters of same-sex marriage fought and won, because it was the right and just and necessary thing. They did what was best for their constituents and their country, not what was good for their careers.