This week Argentina joined one of a handful of countries to legalize gay marriage, despite massive outcries against the measure from the conservative Roman Catholic community. Early this morning the Senate voted 35 to 27 in favor of a marriage equality bill that grants gay and lesbian couples the same rights as their straight counterparts to marry and adopt children. (H/t to Blabbeando for the hair-raising video of crowds celebrating as the vote concludes.)
The historic civil rights victory came at the behest of passionate exchanges between the Roman Catholic Church and the state. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the pope’s head honcho, implied that the measure was the work of the devil, while religious and political conservatives organized demonstrations to protest the bill’s impending passage.
The country’s senate spent close to 16 hours debating the measure before finally passing it early this morning. President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, an avid supported of the bill, is expected to sign it into law as soon as she returns from a trip to China.
Apparently, the conservative backlash didn’t quite measure up to widespread public opinion. The Washington Post reported that a recent poll showed nearly 70 percent of Argentines thought it was time to legalize gay marriage.
The move puts the country years ahead of the United States, where only D.C. and five states have legalized gay marriage, while several states, including California, have voted to outlaw gay unions.
Dan Hawes, organizer for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, told The Post , “Every win we have gives momentum and hope to people everywhere, including activists in the United States working for the right to marry.”
Argentines were also well aware that they’re helping set an international standard. Maria Radhid, head of the Argentine Lesbian Federation, told Time, “Non-discrimination, equality and democracy have won.”
It’s clear that the United States is quickly falling out of step with international counterparts on the issue of gay marriage equality. Already Mexico City, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Afirca, Norway, Sweden, Portugal and Iceland have all legalized gay marriage. Uruguay allows same-sex couples to adopt children, but not marry. And Brazil at least recognizes some same-sex unions.
For a breakdown of same-sex couple statutes that exist, or are in the works globally, check out the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission
And try this for a helpful timeline of the mainstream gay rights movement in the United States.
Photo: Creative Commons/Beatrice Murch