Uruguay’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, has made history today (10 April) when it voted to legalize gay marriage.
An overwhelming majority (71) voted for gay marriage out of the total 92 deputies in the lower house.
This means that Uruguay has effectively legalized marriage equality, as both chambers of the General Assembly, the upper house (Senate) and lower house have now voted for the bill by an overwhelming majority.
Uruguay’s government will implement the law in no more than 90 days, during which, according to deputy Jose Bayardi, some 'drafting errors' that occurred in the Senate will be corrected.
This will be followed by Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica, signing it officially into law, which he already stated he would (i.e. technicality).
The lower chamber started the debate at 4pm local time, but was sidelined when deputy Jaime Trobo, of the right wing National Party, demanded to discuss the ‘outrage’ of having a rainbow flag flown on the annex of the chamber’s building.
He said it showed ‘moral aberration’ and ‘lack of respect’ to the symbols of the state.
The house returned to debating the bill and voted at 8:23pm.
Álvaro Queiruga, of Uruguay’s LGBT rights group Colectivo Ovejas Negras has previously told Gay Star News: ‘Hopefully, the first couples will be getting married in July/August.’
Uruguay’s approved bill states that ‘marriage is the permanent union between two persons of the same or opposite sex’.
The bill modified 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 also did 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 bill 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 once by Uruguay’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, in December last year.
But the Senate modified the bill in December to set the marrying age for women and men to 16, and voted to pass it on 2 April by an overwhelming majority.
With the lower house vote today, Uruguay is the second nation to approve marriage equality in Latin America, following its neighbor Argentina.
Following the news, LGBT Uruguayans have assembled to celebrate the victory in Plaza Primero de Mayo, a square in front of the Palacio Legislativo (where the General Assembly resides), in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay.
A statement from Colectivo Ovejas Negras on Facebook said: ‘Uruguay is about to take a big step towards a more just and egalitarian society. On Wednesday April 10, with the approval of the equal marriage law, our country has changed.
‘Many Uruguayans were born in a country where being LGBT was tantamount to being sick, immoral, or even a family and social disgrace.
‘Given this unjust situation, a handful of men and women dedicated their fight for visibility and protection of sexual diversity.
‘This decades-long struggle paved the way for a whole cycle of legal victories, including cohabitation rights, adoption, the right to change and register one’s gender.
‘A cycle that is now complete with the approval of the marriage equality bill.
‘It's time to celebrate! Uruguay has become the 12th country with marriage for everyone without discrimination’.
Watch the celebration of Uruguay's lower house vote for gay marriage: