(CNN) -- Uruguay drew one step closer to becoming the first country in Latin America to allow same-sex couples to adopt children with the passage of a bill by the lower house of Congress.
The bill, approved Thursday by a vote of 40-13, must pass the Senate. Because the ruling Frente Amplio party holds a majority, the bill's passage is almost assured in the Senate, which must vote before September 15.
The adoption measure would be the most recent of progressive laws passed with the backing of President Tabare Vazquez.
Last year, lawmakers approved a measure allowing children aged 12 or older to change their names, a measure aimed at transgender or transsexual youths.
Uruguay also authorized same-sex civil unions last year, setting the stage for the current adoption law.
"In adoption, what matters is love and the quality of the home so that the child can develop, and not necessarily the sexual preference of their parents," Congressman Pablo Alvarez of the Frente Amplio party told the Espectador newspaper following Thursday's vote.
The measure was not without opponents among conservatives and the clergy.
Last week, Archbishop Nicolas Cotugno of Montevideo, Uruguay's capital city, released a statement warning of consequences for society should the law pass, the Catholic News Agency reported.
"The adoption of children by homosexual couples is not a question of religion, philosophy or sociology. It has to do with respect for human nature itself," he said, according to CNA. "To accept the adoption of children by homosexual couples is to go against human nature itself, and consequently, it is to go against the fundamental rights of the human being as a person."
Journalist Dario Klein contributed to this report.
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