Uruguay’s Senate (Camara de Senadores) voted today (2 April) to legalize gay marriage.
The Senate, voted for the ‘Marriage Equality’ bill by an overwhelming majority of 23 for and 8 against.
The bill states that ‘marriage is the permanent union between two persons of the same or opposite sex’.
The bill will modify some 20 articles of the country’s civil code, including allowing parents - gay or straight - to decide whose surname comes first when naming their children.
The bill will also do away with the words 'marido y mujer' (husband and woman) in marriage contracts, referring instead to the gender-neutral term 'contrayentes' (contracting parties).
The gay marriage bill likewise includes amendments on laws regarding in-vitro fertilization and adoption.
In addition the law will replace Uruguay's 1912 divorce law, which gave only women, and not their husbands, the right to renounce marriage vows without cause.
The bill had already passed by Uruguay’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, in December last year.
The Senate modified the bill in December to set the marrying age for women and men to 16, postponing the vote to today.
The lower house is expected to vote and pass the modified bill within two weeks (a technicality, as it already previously voted for it).
Uruguay’s ruling Broad Front party, which pledged to vote for the law, enjoys a large majority in both legislative houses of the country.
Once passed, Uruguay’s government has up to 90 days to implement it, followed by Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica, signing it officially into law.
Uruguay is the second nation to approve marriage equality in Latin America, following its neighbor Argentina.
Uruguay’s Catholic Bishop, Jaime Fuentes , exepressed his vehement opposition to gay marriage.
Earlier this week he quoted a letter by Pope Francis (at the time Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio) written to Argentina’s lawmakers in 2010, calling the law ‘a destructive proposal to God's plan’ which seeks to lie, ‘confuse and deceive the children of God’.
Fuentes, who previously seemed to be open to the idea of civil unions, further warned that the bill is part of a ‘war against the family’ that included the recent legalization of abortion in Uruguay.
Reacting to the news, Álvaro Queiruga, of Uruguay’s LGBT rights group Colectivo Ovejas Negras told Gay Star News: ‘Hopefully, the first couples will be getting married in July/August.
‘The Catholic church is making a final attack on the bill, with the usual statements from the bishops.
‘We are not at all worried. These are just angry rantings at the unavoidable. They know they've already lost’.