Skip to main content

Uruguay's senate approves same-sex marriage bill

By Catherine E. Shoichet and Dario Klein, CNN
April 3, 2013 -- Updated 0923 GMT (1723 HKT)
Gay couples observe the Senate's discussion of a bill on same-sex marriage in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Tuesday.
Gay couples observe the Senate's discussion of a bill on same-sex marriage in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Tuesday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Measure must be voted on by the lower house, signed by Uruguay's president
  • Catholic Church has fiercely opposed the proposal
  • Left-wing lawmakers say it's a matter of recognizing inherent human rights
  • If approved, Uruguay will become the second Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage

Montevideo, Uruguay (CNN) -- Uruguayan senators voted overwhelmingly in favor of a same-sex marriage measure Tuesday -- a key step that puts the South American nation on the path to becoming the 12th country to approve such a law.

Senators approved the marriage equality bill 23-8. Next week, lawmakers in the lower house, which approved a different version of the legislation late last year, are expected to vote on the senate's version.

If approved and signed by President Jose Mujica, who has indicated he supports the measure, the proposal would make Uruguay the second country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage. Neighboring Argentina legalized such marriages in 2010.

It's an issue that's sparked debate and impassioned demonstrations from supporters and opponents in many countries.

Uruguay y los matrimonios gay

Legislators in France and the United Kingdom are among lawmakers worldwide weighing proposals to legalize same-sex marriage. In the United States, the question of same-sex marriage went before the Supreme Court last week, and justices are now deliberating over the matter.

The first same-sex couples walked down the aisle in the Netherlands in 2001. Since then, almost a dozen countries have passed laws allowing same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships, including Canada, South Africa, Belgium and Spain.

In Argentina, the push to legalize same-sex marriage met with fierce opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, with Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio -- then the archbishop of Buenos Aires and now the pope -- engaging in a notorious war of words with the government over the issue.

In Uruguay, the church has taken a similar tack, with officials describing the measure as a harsh blow to the institutions of marriage and the family.

"Why make relative or devalue an institution that is already so injured, like the family, introducing deep modifications that are going to confuse more than clarify?" the Rev. Pablo Galimberti, bishop of Salto, wrote in a recent post on the website of the Uruguayan Bishops Council.

Uruguay's Broad Front, a coalition of left-wing political parties, backs the measure. On Tuesday, the group's president stressed that the proposed law change a civil institution and has nothing to do with the church.

"Here we are speaking about RIGHTS, with capital letters. Rights that were denied and repressed for a long time, and which a society that is trying to be modern and inclusive necessarily must recognize, to advance in equality," wrote Sen. Monica Xavier. "Rights that are inherent to people, that are not a legislative creation, but something that the law must recognize."

For years, it was rare to see gay rights issues gaining traction in Latin American countries.

Not anymore, Javier Corrales, a professor of political science at Amherst College in Massachusetts, told CNN in 2010.

"Latin America currently has some of the most gay-friendly cities in the developing world," said Corrales, who ranked cities' gay-friendliness in a book he co-edited, "The Politics of Sexuality in Latin America."

In 2009, Uruguay was the first Latin American country to allow same-sex couples to adopt children. It was also one the first Latin American countries to allow same-sex civil unions.

The measure approved by Uruguayan senators Tuesday removes the words "man" and "woman" from the country's civil code and replaces them with the word "spouse," CNN affiliate Teledoce reported.

Journalist Dario Klein reported from Montevideo, Uruguay. CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet reported from Atlanta. CNN's Jason Miks contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1239 GMT (2039 HKT)
Sean Connery says "yes," whilst David Beckham says "no." See what the famous are saying about Scotland's referendum.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1710 GMT (0110 HKT)
On September 18, Scots go to the polls to vote on the future of their country. Here's what you should know.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
This is "Flames of War," a slick and ominous new video from the ISIS media center.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
For years, Morten Storm moved between two worlds. A radical Islamist turned double agent is lifting the lid on some of the world's best-kept secrets.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 0038 GMT (0838 HKT)
A man abducted alongside killed U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff tells CNN that no one from the U.S. government has tried to talk with him.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1508 GMT (2308 HKT)
Mulatu Astatke is the founding father of ethio-jazz: a fusion of Ethiopian music with western jazz.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
Have you been to these? The global museum list, released Tuesday, ranks 25 of the world's best museums.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1703 GMT (0103 HKT)
iOS 8, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, comes with new features that you'll enjoy.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
The Ebola virus, very deadly and currently without a cure, is fast-spreading throughout the small West African country.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1213 GMT (2013 HKT)
It's a surfer's paradise -- but Diah Rahayu is out on her own when it comes to professional women's wave-riding in Bali.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1004 GMT (1804 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT