The lower house of the Uruguay parliament on Wednesday voted to legalize gay marriage.

The Chamber of Deputies approved the measure with a 71-21vote, prompting supporters to erupt in applause.

“We are living a historic moment,” Federico Grana, a leader of the gay rights group Black Sheep, is quoted as saying by the AP. “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.”

The “Marriage Equality Law” was approved in the Senate earlier this month and in the lower house last year. However, changes made in the Senate made a second vote necessary.

The measure modifies some 20 articles of the Civil Code, including whose surname goes first when children are named.

President Jose Mujica, whose ruling Broad Front majority backed the law, has backed the measure.

Uruguay's Roman Catholic Church vehemently objected to the reforms, saying they would “further weaken marriage.”

Uruguay is the 12th nation to legalize such unions. In South America, only Argentina has extended marriage to gay couples. But inroads are being made in several other countries, including Mexico and Brazil. Colombia is currently debating the issue.