BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Thursday, in the midst of major protests in Buenos Aires, the Argentine Senate narrowly voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in what is being called a "historic vote".
According to the Associated Press, the vote was 33 in favor, 27 against and 3 abstentions. The lower house had already approved and as a result, Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, granting gays and lesbians the same legal rights and protections as heterosexual couples.
In the run-up to the vote, supporters and opponents gave passionate speeches. The Roman Catholic Church waged a major campaign against the proposed law. At one point, 60,000 people marched on the Argentinian Congress in protest, holding banners declaring marriage the exclusive right of a man and a woman. In recent days many, normally loyal to President Fernandez who was in favor of the new law, had spoken out in protest. Other members of the government called for a vote in favor, stating a "demonstration" of the country's maturity would be shown by passing the law.
During what was to be a 16-hour debate, both protesters and supporters held vigils outside the Congress building in Buenos Aires. As of today, it is legal for same-sex couples to marry in Argentina.