Uruguay is now the third country in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage.
Lawmakers in Uruguay voted Wednesday to legalize gay marriage with a vote of 71-21. According to the Associated Press, the public seats in the legislative building were filled with supporters who “erupted in celebration” when the announcement of the results was made. The new legislation goes beyond same-sex marriage though, it also addresses the issues of adoption, in-vitro fertilization, and divorce laws, and raised the legal age for marriage. The AP reports,
While some countries have carved out new territory for gay and lesbian couples without affecting heterosexual marrieds, Uruguay is creating a single set of rules for all people, gay or straight. Instead of the words “husband and wife” in marriage contracts, it refers to the gender-neutral “contracting parties.”
All couples will get to decide which parent’s surname comes first when they have children. All couples can adopt, or undergo in-vitro fertilization procedures.
The legislation also updates divorce laws in Uruguay, which in 1912 gave women only the right to unilaterally renounce their wedding vows as a sort of equalizer to male power. Now either spouse will be able to unilaterally request a divorce and get one. The law also raises the age when people can legally marry from 12 years old for girls and 14 for boys to 16 for both genders.
The “marriage equality project,” had already been approved by “ample majorities” in both of Uruguay’s legislative houses, but there were changes made that required a final vote by the Chamber of Deputies. These changes included a provision that will allow “gay and lesbian foreigners” to come to Uruguay to be married just like heterosexual couples can.
Federico Grana, a leader in the gay rights group that drafted the proposal, the Black Sheep Collective said, “We are living a historic moment. In terms of the steps needed, we calculate that the first gay couples should be getting married 90 days after the promulgation of the law, or in the middle of July.” It is expected that President Jose Mujica, whose party backed the law, will put the legislation into effect “within 10 days.”
Photo: AP/Matilde Campodonico