The Mexican state of Colima has legalized civil unions for gay and lesbian couples after approval of a constitutional change.

According to the AP, Colima state spokeswoman Cecilia Ramirez said that following approval from seven of the state's ten municipalities the legislature approved the constitutional change late Monday. She told the wire service that that couples entering a civil union will receive numerous benefits similar to those that accompany marriage.

Two state congressmen argued for marriage rather than civil unions for gay couples and eventually voted against the measure.

Mexico City in 2009 legalized marriage for gay couples, and the states of Quintana Roo and Oaxaca have since followed. The state of Coahuila allows civil unions.

Uruguay earlier this year followed Argentina's 2010 lead and legalized marriage for gay couples. Uruguay's marriage law takes effect on Monday, though it will be a few days before the first same-sex wedding takes place, Spanish news agency EFE reported.

While a court order effectively allows gay couples in Brazil to marry, full legalization hinges on passage of a stalled law in Congress.