Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner signed into law a historic bill that legalizes same-sex marriage for the first time in Latin America, as representatives from the gay community cheered around her.
"We are now a more egalitarian society than we were last week," Kirchner said. "These are things that unite us and cannot divide us."
The legislation was opposed by some on religious grounds, but it was backed by Kirchner's center-left government and was adopted last week by the Senate in a 33-27 vote, with three abstentions, after 15 hours of debate.
Kirchner's signing ceremony Wednesday was attended by representatives of humanitarian groups that supported the legislation, which made Argentina the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage.
"We have not enacted a law but rather a social construct," the president said, stressing that the legislation would create a more pluralistic society.
Argentina's first gay marriage is expected to take place August 13, uniting a couple who have lived together for 34 years.
The couple, Ernesto Rodriguez Larrese, 60, and Alejandro Vanelli, 61, were denied a request to wed three years ago.
Maria Rachid, who heads the Argentine Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual Federation, said she expected around 100 same-sex couples to wed around the same date.
Mexico City authorities have offered the first gay couple to wed in Argentina a free honeymoon trip to the Mexican capital and a major resort beach in the country.