Two Argentine men on Tuesday became the first homosexuals to legally marry in Latin America, after the governor of the country's southernmost Tierra del Fuego province permitted their wedding.
- Alejandro Freyre (left) and Jose Maria Di Bello got married in Ushuaia, some 3,500 km south of Buenos Aires
- Alex Freyre (left) and Jose Maria Di Bello on Tuesday became the first homosexuals to legally marry in Latin America
"We got married today in Ushuaia," an exultant Alex Freyre told the Todos Noticias news channel in Buenos Aires by telephone.
AdvertisementWitness Claudio Morgano, president of the national anti-discrimination institute, called the civil marriage a "historic occasion."
The wedding came one week after Mexico City's lawmakers voted to allow gay marriages, in another first for Latin America.
Although the Argentine civil code does not recognize same sex marriages, a court had approved the wedding of Alex Freyre, 39, and Jose Maria Di Bello, 41, before it was challenged pending the outcome of a Supreme Court appeal.
Tierra del Fuego Governor Fabiana Rios authorized Tuesday's wedding after a civil registrar had refused to officiate earlier this month.
"We knew the governor was a person who sympathized with this cause," said Di Bello.
A November 18 court ruling had ordered civil officials in Buenos Aires to recognize the union and the couple first planned a ceremony for December 1.
However, on the eve of the wedding, a second judge put the ceremony on hold to await the Supreme Court decision.
The couple traveled recently to Ushuaia to work for the anti-discrimination institute.
The wedding was "a step forward toward judicial equality for every man and woman" in Argentina, Di Bello said Tuesday.
"We believe that more homosexual couples will be able to marry in Ushuaia."
No Latin American country recognizes gay marriages but Mexico City's legislature approved them last week, to be applied from February, in a controversial first for the traditionally conservative continent.
A group of Catholic lawyers said Monday in Mexico City that they would carry out "peaceful resistance" in the courts to gay weddings.
The Argentine capital became Latin America's first city to approve civil unions in 2002. Buenos Aires grants gay couples some, but not all rights enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.
Tiny Uruguay has recently spearheaded liberal changes in Latin America with the approval of a sex change law, adoptions by gay couples as well as civil unions for gays.
Colombia also allows civil unions for gays, while an attempt to specifically ban gay marriages recently failed in El Salvador.
As Tuesday's marriage added to pressure for change in Argentina, the president of a leading gay rights group said she hoped lawmakers would next year take up a measure to change the civil code, which currently defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.
"There is sufficient consensus to pass the law at the beginning of the coming year," said Maria Rachid.