Argentine lawmakers are considering a gay marriage bill, the AP reported.

If approved, Argentina would become the first Latin American country to legalize gay marriage and only the second country in the Americas, after Canada.

The country's Chamber of Deputies is debating two bills submitted by deputies Silvia Augsburger, of the Socialist Party, and Vilma Ibarra, of the Popular and Social Encounter Party.

A similar measure introduced in 2007 fueled a backlash from the Roman Catholic Church, which opposes the measure. The church wields huge influence in the country of 40 million. Until 1994, the nation's president and vice president were required by law to be members of the Catholic Church and married.

“Claiming heterosexuality as a prerequisite for marriage is not discrimination,” Archbishop Jose Maria Arancedo of Santa Fe told the paper La Nation.

In 2002, Buenos Aires, the nation's capital and largest city, legalized civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, a first in Latin America. Four other Argentine cities followed. Uruguay is the only Latin American country to recognize gay unions.

The Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender is urging lawmakers to approve the law. On its website, the group is asking supporters to write to their legislators.

Sample text offered by the group reads: “[Gay men and lesbians] are now denied many basic rights that belong to everyone, rights that should be recognized by the law and guaranteed by the state.”