Argentina Legalizes Gay Marriage

Despite fierce opposition from the Catholic Church and evangelical groups, Argentina’s Senate has approved legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. The vote, which came at the end of 16 hours of heated debate, was 33 to 27 with three abstentions. The law has the support of President Cristina Fernandez’s center-left government, and polls indicate 70% of the country’s citizens also support it.

Gay and lesbian couples in Argentina now have all the legal rights and responsibilities that come with heterosexual marriage. These include adopting children and inheriting wealth.

Though civil unions between same-sex couples had already been legal in some cities and provinces, Argentina had no nation-wide laws regarding it. Nine couples succeeded in finding judges to marry them, but these marriages were then annulled by the Supreme Court, resulting in a legal controversy that finally roused the legislature to act.

Argentina is the first Latin American country to recognize same-sex marriage. Others, worldwide, are Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden. No ill-effects have yet been observed in any of these countries. There have been no reports of heterosexual couples either cancelling marriage plans or seeking divorce because of the legalization of same-sex marriage. No spikes in the frequency of polygamy or bestiality have been observed. The major positive effect has been that more couples may now marry.

This colorful chart, courtesy of Patrick Appel, shows the number of people worldwide who live in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is legal. (The green spike on the USA’s area reflects California’s recognition of gay marriage in 2008, followed by Proposition 8, which overturned it.)

We need a lot more green on this chart!

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